SECRETARY General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Satnarayan Maharaj has come out in defence of Lakshmi Girls Hindu College after an On The Job Trainee (OJT) teacher was told on Monday that she could not wear her hijab while at the school.
Contacted yesterday on the issue, Maharaj made it clear the college is not a training ground for teachers and that anyone who is accepted to teach there simply has to conform with the school’s code of conduct.
“Lakshmi Girls’ College is a college for students. We deliver the national curriculum, that is what Lakshmi College is all about. When these teachers apply for posts and they pass the interview, they are waiting because they can’t find a job. There is a department that sees about OJTs which makes calls to various secondary schools asking that these people be given a six weeks or eight weeks of training.
“But we are not a training college, we don’t train teachers. When we accept somebody we do so to help them. We do the favour, we don’t get paid for that. That is not what our arrangement with government is. Our arrangement is to deliver the curriculum to the children, not to train teachers,” Maharaj told Newsday.
He said anyone who is seeking training must conform to the code of conduct and behaviour standards of the school that they want to be a part of. He said it was “unreasonable” for any school, to have to conform to the code of conduct and/or behaviour of a person who wants to go there to be trained or to work.
“We are not obligated to train anybody, we do that gratuitously. In Lakshmi College there are a number of Muslim teachers, a number of African teachers, Presbyterian teachers...they all play a part in helping draft the school’s code of conduct. So somebody comes out of the blue and tells us we must change whatever we are doing, so as to train her? Give me a break! Our arrangement with the (Education) ministry is to deliver a curriculum to children, not to train teachers and we have drawn the line. We are not training any teachers again.”
On Monday, OJT Nafiesa Nakhid met with the school’s administrators when she was told she had to remove her hijab based on set policies of the Maha Sabha on whose compound, Lakshmi Girls College is situated. Nakhid refused and left. She later contacted Newsday to complain that she felt targeted and is now exploring her options.
Leader of the New National Vision Fuad Abu Bakr said it was “extremely ridiculous” that at this point in time, in 2018, there is still some form of discrimination taking place in TT. “We want to make it known that that kind of discrimination is not acceptable,” Bakr said.
General Secretary of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Sat Maharaj said Lakshmi Girls College was not a training ground for teachers and those trainees who came must accept the school's dress code.
Maharaj was responding to a report of a young Muslim teacher's aide being told to conform to the school's dress code by removing her hijab before entering.
She was told she could not wear her hijab while on the school's compound.
Maharaj said the school was not obligated to train anyone, and anyone who was accepted had to conform to the code of conduct and behaviour of the institution.