Ain’t multi-culturalism grand?
From Daily Mail: Schools are being urged to move revision classes and consider rescheduling sports days to accommodate the needs of Muslim pupils fasting for Ramadan, MailOnline can reveal.
A new report also suggests that schools should also ‘show sensitivity’ when organising graduation celebrations and change PE lesson plans to make sure that activities are ‘less strenuous’.
Ramadan falls at the end of May this year and will last for approximately one month meaning it will clash with GCSE and A Level exams across the country.
During the period Muslims who have reached ‘maturity’ are required to go without food or drink – including water – during sunlight hours. It means that thousands of pupils could face sitting exams with empty stomachs in warm exam rooms at the height of summer when Britain gets an average of 16 hours of daylight.
The pamphlet has been published by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents more than 18,000 head teachers and college leaders. It recommends teenagers should not stay up late praying during this summer’s exam period because ‘extra devotions in Ramadan are voluntary’ and performing well at school is ‘obligatory’.
The report – which was authored by ‘inclusion specialist’ Anna Cole – warns: ‘Young people should be made aware that Islam does not require them to put their futures in jeopardy.’
It also says that despite a ‘combination of long days, higher temperatures as well as examinations’ putting extra pressure on young Muslims, many will still opt to participate in Ramadan.
The ASCL research paper concludes that primary-aged children should not fast and makes a series of recommendations to secondary school head teachers to ‘ease the pressure’ on Muslim students.
It advises invigilators to avoid suggesting to students that they have a ‘tiny sip of water’ while sitting in hot exam rooms unless there is concern that they are suffering from dehydration. Schools are also asked to provide prayer rooms as well as to make sure exam rooms are in the shade with fans and bottles of water available.
But the guidance starkly warns: ‘If a student taking an exam is showing any signs that they may be dehydrated, such as a headache or drowsiness, they should be advised to terminate the fast immediately by drinking some water.’
In this instance, staff are told to ‘inform pupils of the allowances Islam gives for them to break the fast and make it up later if they feel fasting will in any way jeopardise their performance’. They are also advised to ‘discuss with students whether they would prefer revision lessons to be in the morning or afternoon’.
It continues: ‘School and college leaders will also want to consider the possible impact fasting and late night prayers during Ramadan may have on Muslim children when setting dates for other activities, such as sports days, trips and celebrations.’
The paper – which the authors hope will be a ‘positive opportunity for engagement – was devised in consultation with scholars from across the spectrum of Islamic religion. The guidelines state: ‘Observing Ramadan may bring many benefits to individuals and communities, but also has the potential to cause the individual temporary hardship through hunger and lack of liquids during fasting hours which may impact on physical wellbeing and cognitive performance.
‘Young Muslims and families, particularly those sitting exams this summer, will need to balance their obligations as Muslims with their studies and the importance of examinations for their future, noting that the pursuit of education is also a religious and moral duty for Muslims of both genders.
There are some exemptions to Ramadan, for women on their periods, those who are ill or those experiencing ‘hardship’ – but generally all Muslims past the age of puberty take part.
Read the rest of the story here.