Saudi Arabia Introduces Physical Education for Girls

According to Education Ministry of Saudi Arabia, Saudi public schools will begin offering physical education for girls in the coming academic year. Minister of Education Ahmad Al-Isa issued orders to this effect.

Physical education for girls is controversial in Saudi Arabia, where conservatives consider it immodest.

The program will be implemented in line with the Shariah regulations and in a phased manner depending on the available capabilities of each public school.

Schools will arrange sports halls and hire qualified women physical education staff before introducing the program.

The decision has been taken in line with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to raise the percentage of those practicing sports and physical exercise by introducing more sports and recreational activities.

A supervisory committee, headed by Dr. Haya Bint Abdulaziz Al-Awwad, undersecretary for girls’ education at the ministry, will be constituted to implement the program. The committee will spell out the program’s goals, performance indexes, and a phased plan.

It will work in coordination with universities to train women specialists so as to qualify them to implement the program at girls’ schools.

The Saudi government has in recent years begun introducing gradual reforms to open new opportunities for women and expand their participation in the labour force.

In 2015, the Shoura Council asked the Ministry of Education to consider adding in the curricula physical education programs that conform to Islamic regulations.

Earlier this year, the The 150-member Shuora Council opened the door to licensing for women’s gyms.

The kingdom sent two female athletes to the Olympics for the first time in 2012, and four to the 2016 games.

In June 2013, Saudi Arabia’s first dedicated sports center for girls was formally opened, heralding more steps for women’s empowerment in the country.

The Shuora Council called for encouraging the private sector to establish fitness centers for women.