Education: Students need to see teachers’ facial expressions to understand lessons

A woman in niqab teaches a special-ed class at Imaduddin School. (Sun Photo/Ahmd Aiman Ali)

Education Ministry states that it is important students see their teacher’s facial expressions during lessons in order to gain a better understanding of what they are being taught. 

Education Ministry said the remark in a statement on Thursday, amid renewed debate about the rights of teachers who wear the niqab. 

Policies were amended to allow individuals to work in schools wearing the niqab in January 2019. 

Education Ministry noted on Thursday that working in schools in niqab had not been permissible prior to that, and said that no change had been made to the policy since the 2019 amendment. 

Education Ministry said there are a number of women who wear the niqab working in various positions in schools. The ministry denied the existence of any discrimination towards them. 

Teachers who wear the niqab are allowed to work in schools under the condition they have their faces visible to students during lessons. 

Education Ministry said that eye, mouth and other facial expressions were vital aspects of human communication, and play an important role in ensuring students understand their lessons. 

Non-verbal behavior of teachers also plays a key role in making lessons interesting for students, said the ministry. 

“We mandated this given the importance of facial expressions in teaching, and because experts agree that the different facial expressions made by teachers help students understand their lessons, so as not to deprive students of this opportunity,” said the ministry. 

Education Ministry said that teachers were instructed to wear face masks during lessons because the pandemic posed an exception health emergency situation.  

“Our prayer is that we overcome this situation as soon as possible and things return to normal, to a situation which allows for lessons to be taught without a mask,” said the ministry. 

Several people have taken to social media to protest that women in niqab should be allowed to teach if teachers are being allowed to take lessons wearing masks. 

Ruling MDP has stated it is against teachers taking lessons in niqab, while MNP has stated that women in niqab should be allowed to teach.