Saudis to Allow Girls Phys Ed in Public Schools

Sarah Attar from Saudi Arabia participates on the 2012 Olympics in London marking the first time the kingdom allowed women to compete.
Sarah Attar from Saudi Arabia participates in the 2012 Olympics in London – the first time the kingdom allowed women to compete. (Photo: OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Girls in Saudi Arabia’s public schools will now have access to physical education, according to new guidelines issued by the kingdom’s Education Ministry the Chicago Tribune reported.

The new regulation is part of the country’s “Vision 2030” plan, which involves broad-scale reformation in society and the economy. The plan is being implemented by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young heir to the throne.

Details of the new guidelines remain unclear as the ministry announced physical education classes would be introduced “gradually” and “in accordance with sharia regulations.”

At present, women and girls in Saudi Arabia must get permission from their legally-required male guardian for all aspects of life, from playing sports (which is frowned upon) to going to college, getting a job, travelling or even visiting a doctor.

Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

Just four years ago, the kingdom approved sports for girls in private schools, and 2012 marked the first time Saudi women participated in the Olympics. Yet, even at an all-female university in Riyadh which includes sports facilities, the kingdom’s highest advisory body, the Shura Council, forbade the creation of a college to train women to be teachers of fitness and physical education.

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Meira Svirsky
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org