As per reports, the education department in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has ordered female students and staff in co-educational institutions to wear a hijab. The circular, released on 24 February, claimed that female students and professors were required to wear hijab due to evidence that it was not being practiced at co-ed institutions.
The circular stressed that disciplinary measures will be taken against the heads of institutes that failed to enforce this regulation.
The circular was distributed to academic institutions between 2 and 4 March, after being forwarded to all three divisional directors and all ten district education officials for approval.
When approached for comment, the AJK Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education acknowledged the circular and noted that the hijab is now part of the uniform for female students and teachers at co-educational schools.
The Minister went on to say that the decision was taken after consulting with teachers and parents. He further stressed that in some remote areas where separate high and upper secondary schools for females could not be built, they would be admitted to co-educational institutions.
To address parental objections, a dress code for educators and a hijab for female pupils and staff had been implemented.
The Minister also stated that, at first, teachers throughout the province would wear robes for identification, and then, in the second phase, they would wear a uniform.
He stated that hijab should ideally be imposed in universities, but because university students are more mature than high school students, the restriction has only been maintained in high schools and upper secondary schools.
The Minister highlighted that the decision to implement hijab was decided in accordance with the Islamic injunctions, as women are ordered to wear a veil and men are ordained to drop their gaze.