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Council Advises No Swimming in Ramadan for Muslim Children

A council has suggested that swimming lessons in some Staffordshire schools should not go ahead during Ramadan to make sure that Muslim students “do not swallow water.” An 11-page Ramadan guide for schools has been issued by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council to help pupils that might be fasting when the new school year starts in September. It said that swimming is acceptable to Muslim but by doing so it posed a high risk of swallowing water that may break their fast. For one month of the year, Islam requires Muslims to fast from dawn until dusk. Ramadan is expected to start around August 11th this year and will last for 30 days. The guide on Ramadan from the council states: “ Schools with a significant number of Muslim pupils should try to avoid scheduling swimming lessons during Ramadan to remove unnecessary barriers to full participation." The guide also suggests scheduling sex education classes after the holy lunar month because Muslim followers who've reached puberty should avoid sexual thoughts during Ramadan. Because Muslims are required to not eat during the hours of sunlight, some pupils will be getting up before dawn to eat with their families. Schools are aware that this sleeping pattern can be quite disruptive and because of this, it has been suggested that any exams during this time should be re-scheduled. The council has said that the document that was produced by its Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, was based on information given to them from the Muslim Council of Great Britain – an umbrella organisation that is said to represent up to 500 Muslim groups in the UK. “The overriding consideration should be that the children do not feel at a disadvantage in activities at school because of their religious observance,” the council added. However, Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society has said that the guide is out of proportion. “ Surely it should be possible for Muslim students to be withdrawn from elements of the school timetable that they do not wish to participate in without imposing these restriction on all the students whether they're Muslims or not.” “It's wrong that everyone in schools should be forced to observe Islamic laws when they may not have any meaning to them.” “Rearranging the school timetable for a month to satisfy the religious needs of a few children is totally out of proportion,” he added.

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