Legal Suit Seeks To Stop Female Teachers From Teaching Boys
In a further sign of liberalization, Saudi Arabia, which enforces sex segregation, has allowed female teachers to teach primary school boys in girl schools. But the conservatives are fighting back. Islamic scholar and university lecturer Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad has filed a lawsuit to stop the Ministry of Education from deploying female teachers to teach boys, and to stop the co-education schools.
The Move By The Ministry Of Education
In a bold move, the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia has allowed boys to study in girl schools, and has deployed women teachers to teach the boys. Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah said that he had authorized special classrooms for boys in girl schools. But he denied that there is co-mingling of male and female students. Prince Faisal bin Abdullah said: “Boys and girls will be sitting in separate classrooms. They will not mix.”
But what about the female teachers in the girl schools? Prince Faisal bin Abdullah said: “Female teachers are closer to and understand better young boys of this age.” In effect, female teachers will be teaching boys in the first, second and third elementary years.
The Legal Challenge
Lecturer Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad from the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University filed a lawsuit to stop female teachers from teaching boys. Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad said that he had written letters to both the deputy ministers of education as well as to the president of the Control and Investigation Board, offering “religious advice” on why female teachers needed to be stopped from teaching boy students.
Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad said: “When I received no reply, I went to court.” But why should he be so worked up on this matter? Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad said: “Because this is a realization of the liberal scheme to gradually normalize the mixing of genders in schools.”
Grounds For The Legal Challenge
Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad gave the following grounds for his legal challenge:
(1) It is haram (forbidden) for female teachers to teach male pupils in girl schools.
(2) It is against Saudi Arabia’s General Education Policy, which prohibits the mixing of boys and girls in school, except in nurseries and kindergartens.
(3) It is a violation of the Charter of Private Schools which prohibits private schools from allowing gender mixing.
(4) It is against the directives of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, acting chairman of the Higher Committee for Educational Policies who previously rejected in writing the request of a private girls school to teach boys under 8 years of age.
Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad is asking the court to hold those responsible to account.
Think About It
Why is Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad and others like him so determined to preserve the sex segregation law in Saudi Arabia when its own king is trying to liberalize the kingdom? Why bring this matter into schools, which afterall, are educational institutions whose main responsibility is to provide children a decent education? Should children receive the best education from teachers, whether male or female? Wouldn’t the Ministry of Education and its ministers have researched the legal position before allowing female teachers to teach boys in separate classes in girl schools? How will the judge rule on Sheikh Youssef Al-Ahmad’s legal challenge?
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