Thirteen-year-old Gulsezim Samat hasn't attended classes since mid-October, when she was told to remove her head scarf before entering her school in the Kazakh village of Chapaev.
The school in West Kazakhstan Province, like all educational institutions below university level in the country, is enforcing an official decree by the Education Ministry that bans the wearing of religious symbols in schools.
The January 14 decree made school uniforms compulsory, and effectively barred Islamic clothing such as the head scarf, or hijab. The policy has been enforced as of September 1, the beginning of the academic year.
In the western city of Zhanaozen about 60 girls, most of them primary school students, stopped going to schools for at least two weeks in September after they were told to remove their head scarves.
Berikbek Samat, a school teacher from Chapaev, with one of his daughters, whose older sister is currently not attending school because she can't wear a head scarf to classes.