Burka ban to be extended to schools

The cabinet’s plans to introduce a ban on the face-covering burka is to be extended to schools and their immediate surroundings, education minister Ronald Plasterk (Labour) told MPs on Tuesday.

Not only teachers, but parents and all visitors to schools, including suppliers making deliveries, will fall under the ban. Private Islamic schools will also have to comply. An estimated 100 women in the Netherlands wear the all-encompassing Islamic garment.
Plasterk says it is essential for communication for teachers and schoolchildren to be able to look each other in the eye.
But the ban will not immediately apply to higher education. Plasterk says he will leave it up to colleges and universities themselves to determine their policy on burkas because they work with adults rather than children.
In February the cabinet said it would not be bringing in a general ban on the burka but did announce plans to ban government civil servants from wearing them. At the time it said it expected local authorities to follow suit and extend the ban to council buildings and public transport.
Health minister Ab Klink is also looking at extending the ban to cover hospitals and healthcare staff.
The new legislation is expected to be ready by mid-2009.

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