Karnataka's School Education Minister, Madhu Bangarappa, disclosed during the ongoing Winter Session of the Assembly that a total of 1,39,078 students in the state opt for sandals over shoes when attending school.
Responding to a query from Mangalore South MLA Vedavyas Kamath, Bangarappa emphasized that wearing sandals does not constitute a violation, and he discouraged any punitive actions against education officials distributing sandals to students in government schools.
According to Bangarappa, a 2022 government order permits students to wear either shoes or sandals based on weather conditions in different regions of Karnataka.
The decision is contextualized by the heavy rainfall experienced in the Malenadu and Karavali regions, as opposed to the soaring temperatures in North Karnataka. Consequently, school authorities distribute sandals or shoes to students according to the prevailing weather conditions.
The minister outlined the government-set rates for sandals: Rs 265 per pair for Classes 1 to 5, Rs 295 for Classes 6 to 8, and Rs 325 for Classes 9 to 10. Notably, sandals are distributed in seven out of the 35 education districts in Karnataka, with varying student numbers in each district.
Hijab Guidelines for Recruitment Exams Clarified
Responding to questions in the Assembly, Higher Education Minister Dr. M C Sudhakar clarified that there are no restrictions on wearing hijab for recruitment examinations conducted by the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA).
He confirmed that no malpractice related to hijab has been reported, and guidelines align with those set by the National Testing Agency. Candidates wearing hijab or turbans are expected to report to the examination hall two hours in advance for security checks.
This clarification comes amid controversy over the dress code, with over 20 candidates arrested for using Bluetooth devices during recruitment tests for first division assistants. Pro-Hindu groups had threatened protests against the allowance of hijabs, claiming it violates a Karnataka High Court order.
The issue of wearing hijab in educational institutions is currently sub judice in the Supreme Court, following the Karnataka High Court's dismissal of petitions from Muslim students seeking permission to wear hijab inside classrooms in March 2022.
Background on Uniform Mandate
The preceding BJP government in Karnataka had issued an order in February 2022 mandating uniforms prescribed by the government or private institution management for students in schools and pre-university colleges across the state. The matter remains contentious and awaits legal resolution.