Manama: Female students in Saudi Arabia have been allowed to enter university and colleges campuses with their mobiles in a landmark decision by the education minister.
Ahmad Al Eisa also told the heads of universities and colleges not to prevent the students from using them inside the facilities.
The decision was announced after several parents complained about their daughters being searched and told to hand over their mobile phones — and about the delays for courses caused by the “unnecessary procedures,” Saudi media reported.
The ministry said that the students at the university level have reached a high level of awareness and consciousness that allows them to rise up to their responsibilities and lead their lives normally, Al Hayat daily reported.
Some of the students have family conditions that require them to remain connected most of the time, the ministry added.
However, all students will remain under the rules and regulations governing the proper behaviour on campus.
King Saud University in the capital Riyadh on Sunday cancelled the need for the approval of the parent if a female student wanted or needed to leave before 11 am.
Prior to the cancellation of the rule, a student had to stay on campus even if her courses were over before 11 am unless she presented the ID of her parent and his approval.
Students who were chauffeured by the family’s driver needed to obtain a special card from the university after presenting copies of the driver’s residency permit, her parent’s approval endorsed by his employer, and the course timetable.
The relaxation of the rules was largely hailed on social media by female users and their supporters who welcomed the end to “unjust measures that were not fair to women.”
Saudi Arabia is going through high-profile reforms to give women more rights, including the right to drive cars that will be implemented in June after all necessary arrangements are taken.
The decision to ban female students carrying mobile phones on campus is often left to the discretion of the university.
In this instance, the university, exclusively for women, prevented students from bringing or using their mobiles. The revelation came as a shock for many Saudis who were not aware that such a rule existed.