A college manager who banned a Muslim girl from wearing her doekie during an upcoming exam has apologised for his “poor communication skills”.
The manager at the International Academy of Health and Skincare campus in Cape Town says he has never wanted to disrespect the Athlone meisie’s religion.
The 19-year-old girl, who asked to remain anonymous, called her dad Noor Slamdien in a flood of tears on Monday after a lecturer told her she would not be able to wear her scarf during an international exam paper.
The angry father immediately contacted the manager, who identified himself as LR Koekemoer, to find out why this wasn’t communicated to them when his daughter applied at the college at the beginning of the year.
He was told this was a requirement by the invigilators who would administer the test.
But Noor, 56, says they were not aware of this, and that his daughter had been wearing her scarf, in a colour to match her beige uniform, since she started class in January.
The girl is studying a two-year course in beauty therapy, which costs a total of R180 000.
The dad threatened to take the matter to the Equality Court.
Koekemoer on Monday told the Daily Voice “it was a private matter at a private institution” and that he would not be “bullied” into commenting.
However, late on Wednesday, Koekemoer emailed a letter to Noor, apologising.
The letter reads as follows: “I would like to on behalf of myself apologise for the inconvenience caused by the poor communication regarding the wearing of headscarfs at International Academy of Health and Skin Care as is required by your specific religious denomination.
“The intention was never to harm, disrespect or hurt your daughter’s feelings. This is a humble apology with regards to the lack of proper communication that caused you and your daughter discomfort.
“I hereby state that I have the utmost respect for all religious denominations and will in future strive to have full and compassionate understanding of such sensitive matters.”
He added: “The policy at our academy has always been that headscarf’s are allowed to be worn at all times by our students in line with their religious beliefs.”
But Noor says the apology has come too late for his daughter, who has been left traumatised: “It doesn’t solve the issue, he must be rehabilitated and sensitised because we cannot have people in managerial positions who are not sensitive to issues like religion.
“Hy moet regkom.”