- By Oyaremi Motunrayo, PhD.
I started wearing the veil in December 2007 and that was few months after I started my Post Graduate Diploma in Education; PGDE. I have always loved sitting at the front right from my undergraduate days, this continued till my postgraduate days.
The first day I wore veil to class, I sat at my usual spot in the class and everyone wanted to know who the veiled student is. I greeted my classmates, while some were surprised, some weren’t and we continued waiting for our lecturer to come in. Immediately our lecturer came in and he saw a veiled student, he asked who I was. Everyone shouted my name and started describing me to the lecturer “that’s Oyaremi, that’s Motunrayo, that’s her seat now, you know her very well, she is always sitting at the front” etc. He said it categorically that he can’t allow that in his class, “this wasn’t allowed in Ife”. And that was when I responded that sir, you just said this is not allowed in Ife but we are in Ibadan now…… He was visibly angry, he shouted the roof down but I was unperturbed.
Everyone looked on while the humiliation continued but someone stood up for me, a fellow student, he called the attention of the lecturer to the fact that we’re postgraduate students, we’re adults and moreover, he is talking to a married woman and so he is suppose to call me into his office and not address me in the class in such a manner.
My friends went with me and we met with some Professors to inform them about what transpired in the class. Thank God this man never raised the issue of my veil again. That was it!!! I was left alone to concentrate on my studies. I finished my PGDE and came back for my Masters degree.
I have always have this dream of becoming a Professor so I know I have to proceed for my Masters degree and then my PhD. On the day I went for my screening exercise. A Professor asked what I was doing around even though it was obvious that I came for the screening. I told him I came for the screening. He responded that I was suppose to be at home!!! I asked him “doing what sir”? Selling fufu or nylon abi? Oro buruku ati erin! As in se ki n wa ni Ile ki ma ta fufu tabi ora Amala ni? I told him I am out because I have a dream and I have to do this to achieve that dream. He smiled and he said it’s ok, that he was just joking. O Berra ba yen o, sha continue joking o me sef dey house, mi o re ibi kan.
As Allah SWT will have it, I was in this same Professors group. And that was an opportunity to proof to him that this veiled student you’re seeing is loaded…. lols. I tried my best except for questions that has to do with Statistics, I have never been a fan of Mathematics or Statistics, numbers generally. Though, mi gbiyanju o, mo try best mi. I have always said it that I am “number anxious”. Mathematics and her mates have always been “Mathemagics” for me. Emi ko o, Olohun ni. Alhamdulillahi Robbil Alamin, I was given admission.
The journey to getting a PhD began. Hmmmmm, a long one at that. I was always at my best academically, intellectually, socially, morally and what have you. I always want to stand out. It shouldn’t be only my clothes that should stand me out nah. Though, my dressing made me noticeable in the class, I was always active in all classes and during presentations except in Statistics class. Someone still reminded me of this today at our Homecoming….lols.
Everything went smoothly till our second year when a Professor called me after a program and said “Tunrayo, you’re no longer allowed to dress this way to the Institute again, I learnt it’s not compulsory”. I was dazed. I said Ok ma. Can’t even argue and I immediately went to inform some lecturers about the new development. I didn’t remove my veil and i continued coming for classes. I was later told to see the Dean of Student Affairs, he is also a Professor and a Muslim. I went to his office and he insisted on my identifying myself, I did but he was not satisfied and I told him to ask any of his female staff to identify me. He wouldn’t take that. He told me he schooled in Cairo, he knows how women dress. I am just doing too much, kilode as in oversabi. He instisted on personally on identifying me, asking that I remove my veil. I told him point blank that I won’t. He was angry and he told me to see the Chief Imam.
I saw the Chief Imam and he gave me all the support I needed, though not without stating some of his fears about some veiled students. Some other Professors where there for me through out. They stood by me and they stood for me during meetings that were called to discuss me. My supervisor was there for me gidigba. God bless her for me and everyone that saw beyond the veil.
Though the humiliations were much, Allah SWT sufficed me.
Why am I writing this today?.
First, it’s two years today that that veiled student; Oyaremi Motunrayo kafilat bagged her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Secondly, the issue of the veiled student that was humiliated by a Professor at LAUTECH.
This singular act made all the memories come back. I began to ask my self, why do lecturers humiliate students who wear hijabs and veils? Are these lecturers aware of the various treaties that support education for all without any form of discrimination and the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to some Local and International treaties as it affect the girl child education and women education or if you like female education generally.
Why do some lecturers believe they can do and undo. Why haven’t they realised that they are to teach through proper consideration of all the domains of learning? As a matter of fact, educators can affect all the domains of learning if they adopt the “domains of teaching”.
Why humiliate your student?
How will such a student learn from you?
How will learning take place when you have humiliated your student?
Humiliation of veiled students is real and efforts should be made to stop it.
Veiled students are at risk of dropping out of their programs when the humiliations become unbearable!!!
Students may drop out of school when they fail but we shouldn’t be humiliated to the point of dropping out because we’re veiled.
Even failed students should not be humiliated.
Nigeria tops the list of countries with the highest number of out of school children, why add veiled women to the number of at-risk of dropping out of school again.
A ni ka je ekuru ko tan lawo, eyin kan tun n gbon owo yin sinu awo abi?
Oyaremi Motunrayo Kafilat, PhD