Friday, March 10, 2006

Sporting Tudungs

I'm not a Muslim and I'm in no position to determine if wearing tudungs for students in schools should be made compulsory, optional or unnecessary from a religious perspective. However, as stated clearly in the Star today:
It is not compulsory for students to wear the headscarf or tudung in school, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said. “According to education ministry rules and regulations, it is very clear there is no compulsion for students to wear the tudung."
So, it is fair for me to comment that the overzealous nature of certain principals of national schools in making compulsory certain religious-type practices deserves to be punished publicly to ensure that there won't be other similarly overzealous practices repeated.

The worst of these practices surfaced when two netball teams from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Abdullah Munshi were forced to quit the Jelutong district inter-school competition in Penang. The principal of the school, Pn Fazillah Shaharim made the decision after being told that some players in the under-15 and under-18 teams had removed their tudung while playing.

Apparently, the school rules prohibit students from removing the tudung during school hours or in activities where they represent the school, as reported by the New Straits Times yesterday. On top of that, they are required to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants during sporting activities.

Besides the fact that this principal is overzealous in enforcing religious practices, she obviously has no interest in nurturing sporting talents in the school or country for anybody will be able to tell you that it is particularly impractical to be clothed from head to toe in active sports, especially if one is serious about the sport. The principal obviously think that the fact that the schools team was strongly tipped for the finals was absolutely irrelevant - reducing the team members to tears upon knowing their fate.

In her response to an "investigation" by the Penang State Education Department, the principal claimed "disciplinary problems among the players also necessitated the pull-out. Apparently some of the players have "disciplinary problems such as playing truant." However the fact that certain players defined the principal's "advice" to wear tudungs was not denied.

The report sounds like a complete farce to me. The "disciplinary problems" issue is obviously an after thought given the full media glare she is now facing. Now, even if it is true that certain players have "disciplinary problems", why were they registered for the tournament in the first place? Shouldn't their names have been dropped from the team before the start of the tournament? Why only withdraw the two teams in the middle of the tournament, and only after finding out that certain players did not put on their tudungs?

I have serious doubts that the players were actually playing truant at all for the principal appears to have no credibility. If Puan Guru Besar is so religiously pious, please do not hide behind a facade of lies and excuses for your supposedly "righteous actions".

This Pn Fazillah Shaharim obviously do not have the students interest at heart and clearly do not understand what the students go through when they worked for one another to win competitions. Her actions will only serve to break the hearts and spirits of the students. Had I had a headmistress like Pn Fazillah Shaharim, she'll be what everyone of us in school would call one mega-mean b*tch.


Anonymous said...

"they are required to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants during sporting activities. "

Actually thats the school rules of about 95% of national schools, and certain private ones too (those under Education Venture Sdn Bhd... go figure.)

Anonymous said...

Once again, these ppl are focused on the petty details while conveniently blinding themselves to the more crucial and important things like improving the standard of education and producing well-trained, all rounded individuals. Can't really blame these petty leaders, since the higher ups are also known for their fascination for petty issues i.e. to ban or not to ban handphones from school.

Trashed said...

Well, at least it has been clarified unequivocally by the Minister of Education.

Let's watch for the rebels.

Adorning the tudung should be a personal choice and not made under duress. That should be the message to all govt depts.

Anonymous said...

check out todays Open letter to Mustapa btw

John Lee said...

Actually thats the school rules of about 95% of national schools, and certain private ones too (those under Education Venture Sdn Bhd... go figure.)
Uh, no? In all the schools I've attended (one SRJKC, one private school, one SK, and two SMKs), only long pants are mandatory (except for certain activities like football or basketball). Long shirts are usually available, but are not encouraged or required.

Anonymous said...

"What is the attire for swimming?"

Man I love this one, this is a direct hit of sarcasm on tudung. Absolute zero practicality hahah.


Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concern, the issue of wearing or not wearing a tudung should be discussed by those who belong to the group... I seriously feel that those who don't belong should stop being nosy.

Anonymous said...

I am really confused, you know.

We sent muslim athletes to the sea games, asia games, commanwel games in gymnastics, sychronized swimming, track and field, bowling ....

On one hand they make our nation proud (we should be proud of those who gave their all, win or lose)

On the other hand they are not wearing tudung and according to Puan Fazillah, it is wrong, vry wrong.

Again, Rafidah Aziz, Marina Mahathir, Siti Nurhaliza, Azalina they are not wearing should Puan Fazillah have a chat with them?

I don't understand and I think I have to leave it as it is coz it is really none of my business.