The Punjab School Education Department (PSED) has imposed a ban on dancing in school events throughout the province. The ban applies to both, government and private educational institutions in the province.
Performances in schools are a regular feature and events including competitions, celebrations, festivals, theatre plays, Teachers’ Day, Parents’ Day and so forth are often celebrated with students dancing on Pakistani and Indian songs. However, according to the notification issued by the Punjab government, all dancing has been banned regardless of the occasion.
PSED Chief Executive Officer, Zahid Bashir Goraya, said that the decision was taken after the department received complaints that children were being made to dance on Pakistani and Indian songs at school events. Some critics were of the opinion that instances where children are made to dance can lead to their sexualisation and ultimately, result in child sexual abuse.
The Punjab government said that dancing in public is an immoral act and takes people away from religious norms and customs. The notice further stated that schools forcing students to participate in dances or any other ‘immoral activities’ that are deemed against religious beliefs, would have their licenses revoked.
Deputy District Education Officers (DEOs) have been made responsible to ensure that the ban is enforced in their respective areas. The notice warned that those found violating the ban including teachers and administrators in educational institutions will face action.
An attempt to ban dance performances and classes was also made in Sindh in 2016 when Khurrum Sher Zaman, one of the three Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers in the 168-strong Sindh Assembly, allegedly objected to dance classes being offered in some private schools and appealed to the provincial education minister to take ‘appropriate action’. However, Sindh Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah, had ordered the withdrawal of any such notification, saying that the provincial government believes in preserving and promoting culture and heritage as per the Constitution of Pakistan.