Saudi 'may let girls play school sport'
Riyadh, April 3, 2012
Saudi Arabia is considering letting girls play sport at school, a senior education official was quoted as saying, in what would represent a relaxation of rules.
Noura Al-Fayez, the deputy education minister for female student affairs, was quoted in a letter addressed to activist group Human Rights Watch as saying that the government was working to change things.
Her letter said the ministry was working to set up a "comprehensive physical education programme", including sports facilities and a health and nutrition awareness scheme "as part of its national strategy for physical education for boys and girls", the daily Al-Watan newspaper reported.
Human Rights Watch received a similar letter from Fayez in January, which said physical education for girls was under consideration "as one of the priorities of the ministry's leadership".
A month later the New York-based rights group criticised Saudi Arabia for never having sent a female athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. Last month, however, the International Olympic Committee said the kingdom had submitted a list of female athletes it wanted to send to this year's London Games.
Some private girls schools already run sports programmes for their pupils, but state-run schools do not while female gyms must adhere to strict regulations that fall under the Health Ministry. - Reuters