The 31st biennial meeting of the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian on Thursday resolved against allowing the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to change the dressing code of pupils in government-assisted schools.
The resolution came in response to a presentation by the synod’s education secretary Moses Kasitomu that sought direction on the consultative meeting convened by the ministry in Lilongwe in May following requests by some parents to allow their children to dress in head gear and keep dreadlocks in line with their faith.
“We were called to a consultative meeting in Lilongwe where the ministry told us that they have received requests from parents to change the dressing code in schools. We could not give a position without consulting the biennial meeting,” he said.
Responding to fears that government may withdraw support from the schools, Blantyre Synod general secretary Alex Maulana assured the meeting that government cannot bulldoze its decision on the schools which are benefitting its citizens.
“We need to be steadfast with our policy. Even if they withdraw support, we will turn them private. Let us hold hands and not bring other religious dressing codes in mission centres,” he said.
In a separate interview, education rights activist Limbani Eliya Nsapato said by enrolling pupils from all faith groups in its schools, the synod has shown that it is tolerant to other religious affiliations. However, he said, there is contradiction when the synod does not allow the pupils to dress according to their faith.
“The policy will be discriminatory and it will affect access to education, especially for those without alternatives. We ask the synod to reconsider its decision,” said Nsapato.
Blantyre Synod has 280 government-assisted primary schools, 33 community day secondary schools and four mission secondary schools. The fifth mission secondary school is under construction in Mangochi. n