Northcliff High’s concession cards for Muslim learners compared to dompas

05 June 2017 - 20:08 By Naledi Shange

An infuriated parent of a Muslim learner at Northcliff High School‚ who was required to have a concession card or permission slip to wear a religious headscarf with her school uniform has compared the school’s practices to that of the apartheid regime.

“Wtf our daughter's (sic) must now carry concession cards to wear their head scarves at a public High School‚” wrote Abeedah Adams.

“How is this different from the Dompas Black South Africans had to carry in the past. #NorthCliffHigh I'm am not going to accept this”.

The dompas‚ which translates to “dumb pass” was used to regulate the movements of black South Africans during the apartheid era.

Northcliff High‚ however‚ said the concession cards were meant to ensure law and order at the school.

“Where we have had parents make requests for a variation or change to the school uniform of any kind such as the wearing of headscarves‚ growing of beards‚ wearing takkies for medical reasons etc.‚ we have granted them permission‚” said Jackie Todaro‚ marketing manager of the school.

“In order to ensure that the child is not reprimanded for uniform infringement‚ we issue them with a concession card so that any teacher querying their different attire can see that their uniform change is legitimate and done with the permission of the school’s management.”

Todaro explained that Muslim learners who would most likely wear their headscarves throughout the year were not required to have a new concession card made and signed each day.

One card was issued and could be used for the duration of the whole year.

While the school follows Christian religion‚ the religion is not “shoved down anyone’s throat”‚ said Todaro.

“We do not discriminate against any religion‚” she said.

During assembly Muslim learners had the option to choose whether they wanted to take part in the Christian prayers or not

“Muslim children can sit at the back of the assembly. No one will force them to bow their heads and close their eyes during the prayers. The prayers are very short. Just a few seconds but in order to accommodate everyone‚ we try to make it more about inspirational quotes‚” Todaro added.

Gauteng Education MEC‚ Panyaza Lesufi‚ however‚ immediately intervened after hearing of the concession cards.

“The school has just agreed to withdraw the cards unconditionally‚” Lesufi put on Twitter.

His department said that it “viewed the matter in a very serious light” and would investigate.

As the school has temporarily done away with the concession cards‚ Todaro said they would need to go back to the drawing board to find another way to ensure that pupils adhere to the school’s code of conduct.

She admitted that the notion of the concession card may have not been addressed efficiently in the school code of conduct.

“The school code of conduct was created a few decades ago and certainly‚ this is something we have to look into.”