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Tonga PM overrules girls' sports ban

 Tonga girls play rugby [Photo: Supplied Talitha Project]

Tonga's Prime Minister, 'Akilisi Pohiva, has issued a statement saying the letter from the Ministry of Education and Training to Tonga High School purporting to ban girls from participating in rugby and boxing is not government policy.

The prime minister said sport is good for the health and the wellbeing of the people and his government, like previous governments, actively encouraged the participation of every Tongan student in all sports, without discrimination.

Mr Pohiva said it is the responsibility of the government to provide opportunities for all students to participate in all sports, however it is for individual students and their parents to decide whether or not they should participate in a particular sport, such as rugby and boxing.

The acting CEO for the Ministry of Education Manu 'Akau'ola said staff from the Education Ministry have had good discussions on the matter, after a community outcry and will be finalising their recommendations early next week.

Earlier this month the letter from the ministry said participation in rugby or boxing went against a young woman's dignity and Tongan cultural tradition.