From Gyang Bere, Jos
The National President of the Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria (ACSN), Dr Ekaete Ettang, has, in the wake of the hijab in schools controversy in Kwara State, said that Christian schools do not coerce or force any student to follow the Christian religion.
The ACSN president says that Christian schools will not back down to pressure from the Kwara State Government compelling schools in the state, including Christian institutions, to admit the wearing of the Muslim head covering among students.
Dr Ettang stated this on Thursday during a press briefing in Jos, adding that anyone who is willing to attend Christian schools in the country must be ready to abide by their policies and rules.
‘These Mission schools are helping government carry out its function and it’s only reasonable they receive support from government, a support that should not be used to muzzle them, control them or seek to change their age-long laid down procedures which have shaped many lives,’ she said.
‘We are Mission/Christian schools, unapologetically so, and those who want to attend our schools should be ready to abide by our policies and rules. We do not in any way coerce other force any student to follow our religion.
‘It is a privilege to be admitted and attend Christian schools and not a right. If Christian children choose Muslim schools, they will be expected to abide by the school’s policies and rules obtainable there.’
Dr Ettang appealed to all concerned Nigerians, Muslim elders, Christian elders and governors in northern and southern Nigeria to address the looming controversy in the country.
‘We are schools whose real ownership is the Lord. The history of the Christian Church positions the Christian/Mission school as a place to preserve its heritage. That is not a crime but is similarly practiced in Islam to which we have accorded them respect in their schools.
‘For the Government of Kwara State to fail to accord Christian/Mission schools a similar respect is unacceptable. We have not only a legal Christian identity in the education sector but a national one for that matter and any Mission/Christian school identified with us cannot be intimidated.’
She called for the reopening of all Christian schools closed by the Kwara State Government and said they will resist harassment, intimidation and pressure to change their identity.