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MOSCOW, October 18 (Itar-Tass) —— The Ministry of Education and Science aims to create conditions for preventing inter-confessional conflicts in schools, Dmitry Livanov, the minister, said on Wednesday, presenting in the State Duma the new basic law on education in Russia.
Yaroslav Nilov of the LDPR, the head of the State Duma Committee for Public Associations and Religious Organizations, recalled a scandal that broke out in the Stavropol territory a few days ago when a school’s authorities prohibited girls from wearing hijabs (headscarves) to school classes. “This is not the first, nor the last such case,” he said.
Nilov suggested to consider “in the framework of the new law, requiring that all educational establishments should ensure that all pupils wear school uniforms, as was the case in the USSR, and that children from poor families be supplied with uniforms free.“ “In this way, there will be no inter-confessional contradictions and no class divisions," he said.
“As regards the specific case in the Stavropol territory, our stand is that religious and cultural peculiarities of families must not contradict the secular character of school education,” the minister said. He believes that “in each school there is room for compromise to permit combining the secular character of education with following cultural traditions existing in some or other locality.” “As far as l know girls in the given school wore headscarves from September 1, and that did not contradict either school rules or general norms in principle. I believe we will create in future the legal conditions to prevent such conflicts,” Livanov said.
The minister’s words brought forth mixed response of experts.
Thus, journalist Pavel Danilin holds that “the school is no place to flaunt religious or national peculiarities but the instrument for socializing and education.” He believes ostentatious showing of such peculiarities may interfere with the teaching process.
Writer Alexander Prokhanov believes relations between Russians and Caucasians in the Stavropol territory are tense, so the minister should be more cautious about his words. “There is a need for the common uniform and the secular character of the school,” he believes.
Veronika Krasheninnikova, the head of the Institute for Foreign Policy Research and Initiatives, recalled, in her turn, that France’s law banned the wearing of hijabs from 2004, and the ban on religious symbols worn in school is in effect in Belgium since 2010. The school must lead to “unified citizenship”, Krasheninnikova holds.