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The Department of Education (DepEd) has reiterated its policy of respecting the religious rights of students including the right of female Muslim school children to use veil or headdress (hijab) inside the campus.

Based on DepEd Order No. 32 series of 2013, the Department reiterates its policy on the protection of religious rights of students which was contained in DECS Order No. 53 series of 2001 entitled “Strengthening the Protection of Religious Rights of Students.”

Based on the order, Muslim girls shall be allowed to wear appropriate clothing during Physical Education (PE) classes in accordance with their religious beliefs. Moreover, Muslim students shall not be required to participate in non-Muslim religious rites.

“These measures are part of our continuing thrust to make education universal, inclusive, and embracing of all faith,” said Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC.

The Philippine Constitution guarantees the rights of citizens to freedom of religion and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, creed, or color.

While DepEd supports and promotes the right of Muslim Filipino women to wear the hijab or veil, it does not compel Filipino Muslim women to wear it. For Muslim Filipino women who have been hired as Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) teachers, the wearing of ustadja (covering of the whole face) is allowed outside the classroom.

However, inside the classroom she is requested to remove the ustadja for proper identification of the teacher by the pupils thus promoting better teacher-pupil relationship. Also, effective language teaching is better achieved when face covering is removed as pupils can clearly see the lip formation of the teacher when speaking which significantly helps in the correct production of the letter sounds.

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