File pic of women wearing face-covering Hijab. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)
OSLO, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Norway said on Monday it has proposed to ban the use of face-covering garments in all kindergartens and educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities in the Nordic country.
The prohibition will apply to both students and employees, the Norwegian government said in a statement.
The proposal, which was sent for consultation on Monday, will cover the entire course of education in both the private and public sectors, from kindergartens to higher education, as well as introductory program for refugees and Norwegian courses for newly arrived immigrants.
"We do not want face-covering garments in kindergartens, schools nor universities. The garments prevent good communication that is essential for students to learn well," Minister of Education and Research Torbjorn Roe Isaksen was quoted as saying.
Per Sandberg, acting minister of immigration and integration, stated that "face-covering garments such as nikab and burka do not belong in Norwegian schools."
"It is a very basic value that one should be able to communicate with each other, especially in school and kindergarten," he said.
Currently the ban can be implemented locally, as it has already been done by some schools and colleagues in Oslo and its neighboring areas.
Now the government wants to raise the ban to the national level.
"Norway is an open society where everyone should be able to see each other's faces. We want educational institutions that are good meeting places for students and employees," Roe Isaksen said.
The ban should only apply to clothing that covers the face, such as balaclava helmet, masks and nikab. It shall not apply to headgear like hijab and hats.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian government proposes exceptions for garments used for educational, health, climatic or safety reasons. This may include protective equipment or surgical masks.
The consultation deadline for the proposal is Sept. 20, the government said.
Roe Isaksen expressed awareness of complex legal aspects of the proposal. "Therefore, I hope for many good inputs when the proposal is now being sent for consultation."