Ground-breaking Ramadan guidance developed by Dr Irfan Khawaja at Birmingham City University will create a more inclusive environment in schools for Muslim students and staff engaging in physical education.
The guidance, thought to be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, gives schools practical advice for supporting fasting Muslim students and staff so they can continue to take part in PE sessions during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Dr Khawaja, a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education, said:
“I wish the guidance had been around when I was a student, and a member of the PE department when I was teaching.
“In this increasingly diverse world, it is important to understand all the different cultures and religions, so we make physical education, physical activity and sport as inclusive as possible.
“It is my wish that this guidance supports the great work schools, and wider education establishments do, and provides them with an opportunity to create a truly inclusive environment.”
Dr Khawaja collaborated with the Youth Sport Trust, Association of Physical Education, Muslim Council of Britain, and Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity to produce the paper, which you can read in full here.
In the paper, he advocates for inclusive activities and timetabling that minimises adaptations and avoids drawing attention to Muslim students. For example, by implementing lower intensity and greater skill-based activities for all students during Ramadan.
Vicci Wells, Head of Sport at Youth Sport Trust, said:
“Ensuring regular access to Physical Education, sport and activity is vital for the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of children and young people.
“This valuable guidance empowers teachers and practitioners to collaborate with pupils, creating an environment where they can safely and happily participate in PE and sport during Ramadan. It is a useful resource for schools, wider sport sector providers as well as young people and their families.”
The guidance also includes practical adaptions for a comprehensive list of PE activities, such as swimming, trampolining, athletics, and gymnastics, to accommodate fasting students and staff. It also highlights the importance of communication, encouraging schools to speak to Muslim staff and students so they are able to offer the right support.
Ramadan, meaning ‘the hot month’ in Arabic, is an Islamic celebration of fasting and prayer in honour of Allah (God in Arabic) that lasts around 29 to 30 days. Throughout this holy month, Muslims gather with their families and communities, and fast from dawn to sunset and recite the Quran.
Dr Khawaja talked about and helped facilitate a number of practical workshops at a conference where the guidance was launched on Monday, 29 January 2024 in Birmingham.