KARACHI: To make sure that dance classes are banned in all the private schools, the Sindh education department issued a notification on Friday, warning that schools that do not stop offering classes teaching the art will have their registrations annulled.
Private schools director-general Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui issued letters to the management of private schools and directorate of inspection and registration of private school institutions. “Some schools, in the name of dance, have hired teachers and started teaching vulgar dance, which cannot be tolerated,” he stated.
“This practice must be stopped forthwith, otherwise we will have no other option but to cancel the registration of these schools.”
He, however, clarified that the ‘government is not against dance but cannot afford vulgarity in the name of it’. “We are not a Western country and our culture and religion restrict us from this kind of rudeness,” he remarked.
Education Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar also endorsed the move. “No one can take action against music or classical or ordinary dance,” he said. “But this circular was against vulgarity.”
One perturbed man?
The controversy surrounding the ban on dance classes began when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman expressed dismay over inclusion of dance classes in some schools and wrote a letter to Education Minister Dahar a few days ago regarding the issue.
“This is against our religion [and] principles,” he wrote in the letter. “I request you to please look into the matter and take action against schools that offer dance in their syllabus.”
Interestingly, senior leadership of the PTI distanced itself from the content of the letter, saying that it was Zaman’s personal initiative and the party has nothing to do with it.
“I took up this matter following a number of complaints lodged by parents against this practice,” claimed Zaman.
“Some people in my constituency repeatedly asked [for a ban on] the dance classes [as] the management of the private schools compelled their children to get admission in dance classes.”
The letter demanding a ban on dance classes earned the ire of civil society, classical dancers and dance teachers. Opposing the ban, they demanded of the government not to take such a decision. “There is no bar in religion and our Constitution on dance,” said Sheema Kermani, a famous dance teacher and civil society activist, adding that Sindh is the province where its saints have spread the message of love, peace and tolerance through music and dance.
“I can quote here the example of Sindh’s renowned poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, who disseminated the message of love and peace in his poetry and music,” she said, adding that the government should include dance in school curricula.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2016.