The Turkish government says it is lifting a ban that has prohibited girls from wearing Islamic head scarves, or hijabs, in secondary school.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said late on September 22 that female students will be allowed to wear head scarves "beginning with fifth grade."
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu welcomed the amendment as an effort at "democratization."
However, Kamuran Karaca, head of the Egitim-Sen education union, said that "Turkish society is heading back to the Middle Ages through the exploitation of religion."
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, who became president last month after over a decade as prime minister, has been accused of eroding the secular values of the modern Turkish state.
Turkey lifted a ban on hijabs in universities in 2008 and allowed women to wear them at public institutions last year.