Dubai Women's College suspends non-PE students

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Dubai Women's College suspends non-PE students

Postby shawarma » 03 Dec 2007, 11:52

I'll add the story when I find it. But the quick version is that 7 students were suspended from Dubai Women's College (DWC) for not attending Physical Education (PE) classes - including things like swimming. College argument was that it was part of the curriculum and students knew that. Student argument was that it was against their religious beliefs and culture. The original article included a photo of the swimming costumes used which covered most of the body, and also pointed out that PE lessons were held in a closed environment with no men around.

From ET 22 Dec 2006...

College supported over PE class suspensions

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has backed the Dubai Women’s College after it suspended 22 students for failing to attend PE classes.
As revealed yesterday in Emirates Today, the students said their non-attendance of PE classes was due to their conservative backgrounds and not feeling comfortable with swimming or working out in the gym.

The suspension means the girls will miss college for the entire academic year.

Mustapha Karkouti, the head of Corporate Affairs at HCT – the authority that oversees the college – said his organisation would back the college in its decision. “If that is the policy of the college, we respect it totally. The matter requires no interference from higher levels as the director is in charge of the college. This is the stand of the HCT,” he said, speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

Dr Howard Reed, the director of the college, said the decision was part of the college’s strict attendance policy, and the students were responsible for what had hap pened. “The reputation of the Dubai Women’s College is not something that has come easily. It is a result of a lot of hard work and discipline. We have to make sure our graduates are thorough professionals who can excel in the competitive work environment outside,” he said.

Responding to the claims of some students that it was ridiculous to ruin the future of students for not playing sports or swimming, Dr Reed said: “I have been the director of the college for the past 16 years. I have had parents and students complaining that it is really stupid to suspend students for poor attendance in Maths, English or computer classes. Does it mean we have to shy away from taking tough decisions? No, we don’t.” However, many irate students said that their reservations over swimming and playing sports were due to religious and traditional reasons.

“It’s a pity these people don’t understand that our families don’t appreciate us swimming or working out in the gym.

“If we don’t want it [PE], why are they forcing it on us?” asked a student, who did not want to be named.
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Chancellor says PE lessons optional - GN 23 Dec 2006

Postby shawarma » 03 Dec 2007, 11:52

This story just got interesting today with a response from the HCT Chancellor sent to the Gulf News. The previous story said that the college decision was final and absolute. Or words to that effect. Now what 8O ? I think someone is going to be in trouble. And it won't be the Chancellor. I don't know what position the spokeswoman for DWC HCT holds that was in the news the other day but I'd guess she won't be feeling to happy after reading this article.

I wonder who contacted the Chancellor though. The Gulf News or the suspended students?

Minister denies suspension of seven college students
By Reema Saffarini, Staff Reporter

Dubai: A senior official yesterday denied that the Dubai Women's College has suspended seven students for failure to attend PE classes.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, said in a statement that PE classes are optional and not compulsory.

He said physical education classes were introduced in the curriculum to emphasise the importance of fitness in everyday life.

"The basis for this is the fact that healthy bodies are necessary for healthy minds," he said in the statement faxed to the Gulf News.

Earlier on Thursday, a student services adviser of the college had told the media that the suspension of the seven was final.

"Only seven failed to comply with the college's attendance regulations," said Amnah Al Mazam, the advisor, refuting reports that 22 had been suspended.

The students had cited religious and cultural reasons for refusing to attend the physical education class.

Al Mazam said the physical education programme has been running in the college for six years and never encountered any complaints before. "Every week we have 1,200 students attending PE. We never heard any complaints that it is against the religion or traditions," she said.

Warned thrice

Eman Abdullah, a para-medic student at the college, who takes part in swimming competitions, said some students do not consider physical education to be as important as other classes. "It's just laziness," she said.

Al Mazam said the students were warned three times.

Shaikh Nahyan also said that the college introduced this activity in the curriculum because being fit prevents obesity, high blood pressure and other ailments.
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ET report - PE classes optional - 24 Dec 2006

Postby shawarma » 03 Dec 2007, 11:57

The plot thickens with contrary statements from the DWC director and the vice-chancellor...

Another version of the story in the Gulf News yesterday, from ET 24 Dec 2006...

‘Physical Education is optional’

The Minister of Higher Education has ruled out the suspension of 22 students of Dubai Women’s College who were faced with the loss of an academic year. They faced suspension for not attending physical education classes.

After Emirates Today reported the incident, a statement issued by the office of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, The Minister of Higher Education and the Chancellor of The Higher Colleges of Technology, said physical education is optional and not a compulsory subject in the curriculum.

The suspended students were reported to have refused to take up physical education classes, including swimming and gym classes citing religion and traditional reasons.

Re-iterating their stand to expel students, Dr Howard Reed, the Director of the College, had said the decision was final.

“It is part of the strict attendance policy of the college, and we had to take the tough decision,” Reed noted.

Mustapha Karkouti, head of Corporate Affairs at HCT – the authority that oversees the college, on his part stated his organisation would back the college in its decision.

However, Dr Tayeb Kamali, Vice-Chancellor of HCT, said yesterday: “I can tell you that under no circumstances can the college dismiss or suspend students for their lack of attendance for physical education classes”. It is an optional subject which students can take if they are willing to.

‘And it is made very clear in the statement issued by Sheikh Nahyan. So we should close the chapter here,” he added.

When contacted, some students who were suspended said they are happy the Minister has intervened.

“We stick to the [premise] that we don’t want to play sports,” said one student who did not want to be named.
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