Many citizens welcomed the Ministry of Education’s announcement of introducing physical education in girls’ schools. The decision is scheduled to be implemented in September.
The ministry’s announcement came a day after the Shoura Council’s rejection on Monday of a proposal to add physical education in the curricula of girls’ schools and universities.
“A majority of the members voted for the proposal but the reason it didn’t pass through was it didn’t receive the number of votes required for approval,” Shoura Council member and sports advocate Lina Almaeena told Saudi Gazette.
Justifications for not voting for the proposal on Monday was a proposal approved three years ago endorsing girls’ sports programs in line with Shariah regulations and providing training programs for physical education teachers.
“Having such programs was approved three years ago. However, authorizing sports colleges for women and introducing physical education in the curriculum in an official manner was not ratified by consensus in the Shoura Council,” says Almaeena, who is member of the health committee that submitted the proposal.
Many Saudis celebrated the ministry’s announcement on social media as good news for students who will be starting the new academic year in September.
“Incorporating physical education in girls’ schools has been studied for years and now we’re glad it will be put into effect,” says fitness expert Dr. Badr Alshibani, who participated in the Ministry of Education’s committee involved in strategic planning for the physical education curriculum.
“One of the goals of Vision 2030 is to create a vibrant society,” he further says. “Starting with schools is a first step to achieving this goal. It will not only promote citizens to be active but will also create jobs and foster business, leading to more specialized health clubs for women.”
Sports advocate and pediatrician Dr. Mariam Fardous commented, “This is a step forward and I expect to see a decrease in obesity among young people.”
She added, “There needs to be appropriate spaces and facilities in schools once the decision is implemented.”
Athletic coach and physician Dr. Mohammed Shobain says, “Women’s sports is going to have its fair share in Saudi Arabia after officially allowing PE classes in girls’ schools. It will be a game changer in creating football, basketball and volleyball teams. Women will have better awareness about their health and hidden talents.”
Shobain attributed the decision to the efforts of the General Sports Authority and the Ministry of Education.
“Physical education can now be accessible to everyone, not only in private schools,” adds Almaeena. “This is positive for building a future generation of strong, stable and happy youth.”