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No Need To Close School Canteens During Ramadan, Says Fadhlina

No Need To Close School Canteens During Ramadan, Says Fadhlina

Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said there’s no need for school canteens to close because it’s not fair to non-Muslims.

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The Education Ministry has said there’s no need for school canteens to stop operations throughout the month of Ramadan.

Its minister Fadhlina Sidek said this is because it’s not fair to force all school children to fast if they see their Muslim classmates fast, Astro Awani reported.

In the Malaysia Madani concept, we should be inclusive when it comes to respecting the Ramadan month so we need to let children know that Ramadan is a month of worship. At the same time, the process to understand other students should also begin but it doesn’t mean they should be marginalised and leave no room for the children to eat.

Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek

She said non-Muslims should also be given the space to follow this practice but it needs to be supported and respected by the school.

Schools that want to close down canteens during the fasting month must get approval from their respective Parent-Teacher Associations, Malaysiakini reported.

What happened in the past?

Previously, there have been cases where non-Muslim students were forced to eat in uncomfortable situations or fast during Ramadan.

In 2010, a headmistress of a school in Kedah accused Chinese students of being insensitive to their Muslim peers by eating in the school compound.

The Malay Mail reported that the headmistress told the students to “return to China” if they could not respect the culture of other races. The headmistress has since apologised for her racist-laden remarks.

In 2013, non-Muslim students in a Sungai Buloh primary school were forced to eat in the toilet, more specifically the shower room.

According to Malaysiakini, the school’s principal allegedly said the shower room was transformed into a temporary canteen because the canteen couldn’t accommodate all students.

The students apparently had to sit on pavements and drainage areas near the canteen during recess.

Based on the pictures shared, tables and benches were set up right outside the shower stalls for children to use.

Non-Muslim students in the Sungai Buloh school had to eat in the shower room. Image: Guneswari Kelly/FB

In 2015, a teacher in a Kedah school allegedly told non-Muslim students to drink water in the toilet or drink from the tap or their own urine if they did not have water.

According to Malay Mail, the then Tanjong Dawai assemblyman Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain alleged that the teacher’s joke about drinking urine was misinterpreted.

Last year, a school in Kuala Lumpur decided to close the school canteen to teach children about Ramadan and parents were notified of the matter through Whatsapp.

Following the uproar, the school said the parents of all 11 non-Muslim students agreed to the canteen closure. These children could bring their own food and water from home but had to eat in a separate room during recess.

READ MORE: Canteen Closed During Ramadan, Non-Muslim Parents Think Their Children Are Forced To Fast

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