KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Sunday took an exception to a circular of the education department asking private schools management to desist from conducting the dance classes.
Vowing to protect the progressive values that Sindh has upheld, the chief minister put an end to the controversy surrounding the restrictions and revoked the ban imposed by the private schools director-general on Friday.
“The government of Sindh firmly believes in preserving and promoting culture and heritage as enshrined in the Constitution and it will not be dictated by isolated extremist elements,” he said in the statement. “[We] will not allow [the government’s] progressive agenda to be hijacked at any cost. Dance and music are integral parts of a liberal society and we will continue [to] support such activities.”
Shah further said that the minister concerned categorically denied endorsing such a ban and action will be taken against those (officials) who ‘falsely’ attributed such a ban to him. “Action is being initiated,” he stated. “Those responsible will be taken to task.
After the chief minister stated in explicit terms that a ban on teaching of dance in schools will not be supported by the provincial government and action will be taken against those responsible, Education Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar also lent support to the CM’s stance.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dahar said that the education and literacy department supports the opinion of the chief minister, who does not support the ban on dance classes in schools.
He further explained that before he took charge of the education ministry, a committee had been formed after receiving some complaints regarding dance classes and a circular was sent to a few schools on June 6 this year to inform them that the committee will visit their premises to monitor the dance classes. “The ban [in the letter issued on Friday] was specific to vulgar dance and was not on other traditional forms of dance,” he said. Dahar stated that the committee was formed and the circular was issued before he took charge of the education ministry.
On Friday, private schools director-general Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui had issued a letter 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.”
After this letter, CM Shah issued a statement on Sunday, saying that the government does not support the ban on dance classes in schools. The controversy regarding the dance ban started when Siddiqui, who issued the letter to the schools after the committee was formed to look into dance classes at schools, and the committee visited three main schools in the city.
The committee visited Bay View School, Froebel’s Education Centre and The Hub School. “The restriction was [imposed] only on vulgar dance but not on classical and Sufi performances,” said Siddiqui, while explaining that dance performance on Indian songs, especially those in which theatrical smoke and lightings are used to make them more attractive, should be stopped.
No one has stopped or banned dance in any way but just have been told to keep morality intact, he added. According to him, action was not taken on the letter written by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman as the circular had already been issued on June 6 this year, after which the committee visited schools and submitted its report to the education department.
Siddiqui shared that teachers at one of the schools justified the dance classes by clarifying that they are only offering dance classes to primary students and assured that there is no vulgarity in it if they are teaching them simple dance moves in dances.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2016.