Different Religions, One Malawi
A decision by the Public Affairs Committee-PAC and school owners in accepting the hijab dressing code in schools has always been a dream come true for Muslims in the country.
The battle has been there for years between school owners and the Muslim community which always wished its
children to keep religious values in terms of dressing as prescribed in the Islamic faith.
Meetings have been taking place between Hijab Task force under Muslim Association of Malawi and different
school owners in the country to effect the dressing code but with no fruitful outcome.
Government of Malawi intervened in 2018 through the Ministry of Education to describe the right to education for
every child in the country.
However, there was still resistance from the school owners on accepting Muslim girls in especially Christian owned schools, as they thought it would devalue their religious principles and doctrines.
To make matters worse, a number of schools were closed resulting from frequent misunderstandings that
surfaced between the community and the school owners.
It is as a result of such matters that education has been affected heavily leaving education authorities and
learners in limbo.
PAC involvement has finally eased down the tension that has always been there for a long time without being resolved.
Among the agreement between the religious bodies it is to agree that learners’ right to education and freedom of religion, particularly that of the girl child, ought to be recognized and respected in all schools.
It has also reached a point that the principle practice of religion is not only confined to belief but may include ritual
acts, customs such as the observance of dietary regulations, the wearing of distinctive clothing or head covering among others.
What remains is for the Community, learners, parents or guardians to have the responsibility to acknowledge and
respect the administrator’s powers of management and administration of Government Assisted Christian Schools
to avoid misunderstandings.
This is all a sign of tolerance and understanding among different religions in the country. Since the dawn of democracy in 1994 in Malawi, the citizenry vowed to never tolerate oppression but rather enjoy democratic freedom. Section 33 of the Malawi constitution provides that every person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief and thought.
It must be appreciated that coming up with solutions to some misunderstandings is a symbol of coexistence among people of different faiths in the country and as a result it promotes tolerance among all citizens.