A controversial letter purported to send a message from the Ministry of Education and Training to a government principal informing them of a decision to ban girls from participating in footballs and boxing has sparked anger among the sport community.
The letter which was written in Tongan was addressed to the principal of Tonga High School on March 15. It was widely shared on Facebook since last night.
It claimed the decision was made by the Ministry’s CEO.
“Ko hono ‘uhinga he ‘oku fepaki ia mo ‘etau ‘ulungaanga fakafonua ki hono tauhi ke molumalu ‘a ha’a fafine, ‘o taau mo e tala tukufakaholo na’e fatu’aki ‘a e fakava’e na’e fakatoka talu pea mei ono’aho ‘o kehe ai ‘a Tonga pea mei ha toe fonua ‘i he Pasifiki pea mo mamani.”
This translates into English as: “The reason is because it is against our culture to keep women dignified so it still upholds the tradition of which its basis had been set out since the olden days making Tonga exceptional in the Pacific and the world.”
In an email to Kaniva News this morning, the Ministry’s CEO Claude Tupou did not deny the letter.
However, he told us to contact the principal of Tonga High School and asked them if they had received “an exact copy of the letter” which we sent him.
The Kaniva has not yet been able to reach Tonga High School principal.
Many took to Facebook to show their disbelief and anger.
One commentor wrote: “How about if he used his time to intervene with the school fights rather than ripping individuals off from having the opportunity to succeed in the future. Some may not do academically well but are beasts on that field. It’s also a sexist thing to do! We’re in the 21st century now! Can our government stop depriving our people by limiting what they should and should not do? Whether female or males, they should be granted the same opportunity. So dearest Minister of Education, you’ve killed a tree and wasted paper on some stupid ban!”
“Rubbish!!! why not?? girls have talents as well as boys! So much for equality!! That is why women should speak up for their rights! Then why allowed women in parliament?”, another wrote.
“I honestly cannot believe what I’m reading. So disappointing”
“Shouldn’t the minister be more concerned about the fighting amongst the schools. He should support and let the young women have that right to choose to play rugby or box.”
“What are we in the 1900’s!! Girls in Tonga should have the right to choose whatever sport they want, whether its rugby or boxing … instead of worrying bout girls playing rugby and boxing the minister of education should be looking at more important things LIKE how he can unite all schools as one to stop these brutal fights amongst eachothr … or something thats gonna contribute in a positive way not take away from Tongas education system! No disrespect in any way shape or form to our tongan traditions and customs but these are new times and a whole new generation … can someone remind him that its 2018 lol.”
Not everyone agreed with the critics.
Some said the Ministry made the right decision because they believed rugby and boxing were sports for men.