Study gives nod to Sikh knife in school

Sydney, Australia - SIKH students would be allowed to carry small daggers to school under a plan that has outraged teachers and principals.

A Victorian parliamentary committee has also given the green light for Muslim students to wear hijabs in the state's classrooms.

The inquiry into uniforms found all schools should accommodate clothing or other items that are religiously significant.

The Education and Training Committee report recommended that schools should work with the Sikh community to allow male students to carry a kirpan - a small, curved ornamental steel dagger carried by all initiated Sikh men.

The committee found there were concerns from principals and teachers about students carrying the kirpan - which is hidden under the school uniform - but the item was important to the Sikh community.

Victorian Association of State Secondary School Principals head Brian Burgess said kirpans should not be allowed in schools.

"It is potentially very dangerous and should not be brought to school," he said. "If it was misused, it could hurt kids. And it may not be the students that bring it to school but others who know about it and misuse it."

Mr Burgess said other weapons were not allowed on school grounds and the kirpan should not be the exception.

The Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria did not want to comment yesterday but previously told the committee that only a small number or Sikhs have been initiated and an even smaller number of students carry the kirpan. The kirpan, carried in a sheath and worn on a strap, is one of five articles of faith that initiated Sikh males have to carry. It is not allowed to be used as a weapon.

The council rejected suggestions by the Department of Education that students carry a replica or pendant to school.

The year-long inquiry, which was tabled in the Victorian parliament yesterday, also ruled against making school uniforms mandatory, instead recommending that the decision remain with individual schools. The committee also called for schools to include hats and address sun protection in their dress codes.