Often the focus in our schools is so much on exams that few opportunities are created for learners of different sexual orientations and cultural backgrounds to cultivate an appreciation for each other’s differences. Why are schools, for instance, allowed to close on Ascension Day, while the same allowance is not made for special days observed by Muslim learners?

A school principal phoned me one Friday when I was still circuit manager. He was very upset and wanted to know what he should do about a boy who refused to write a test after school. On hearing the name of the child, I informed the principal that the boy was Muslim, and that, like all Muslim men, he had to go to mosque on Friday afternoons.

I also remember the day the matrics had to write the maths paper on Eid. Imagine if, as a Christian, your child had to write mathematics on Christmas Day! Although the problem was addressed thereafter, the question remains: How could a school principal and an education department make such an error in these times? The answer is simple: diversity is prominent in our Constitution, schools’ and universities’ codes of conduct, and the mission statements of…

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