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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 17:01 GMT
Teachers needled by knitting ban
Indian classroom
Officials say teachers are not spending enough time focussing on their students
Teachers in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been banned from knitting in classrooms - as authorities believe they are being distracted from giving their full attention to pupils.

Knitting is a great passion among many people throughout India, and the teachers have become particularly passionate about it.

According to Neera Yadav, Principal Secretary of Education in Uttar Pradesh, they often seem more interested in knitting than in teaching.

"All the officials of the education department dealing with primary and secondary schools banned the teachers from knitting in school premises during teaching hours," Ms Yadav told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"The idea is to give a message to the teachers that they should concentrate on the academic and other extra-curricular activities of the children, and should not do their private work.

"There were complaints that often teachers would do their personal knitting during school hours."

'New yoga'

The teachers are however reported to be resistant to the plans.

RP Mishra, spokesman for the Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Teachers' Association, described the move as "dictatorial".

"What's wrong if they sit in staff room and knit during free periods," he said.

"The government should first take action against corrupt officials"

And artist Kaffe Fassett, author of the book Pattern Library, described the move as "very sad."

"People concentrate better when they knit," he told Outlook.

"There's a female doctor who got very famous in New York by writing an article saying that she could concentrate better on the lectures - not fall asleep like all her friends did - when she knitted."

Knitting bans are nothing new - one was instigated on all planes in the US just after 11 September, as the needles could be used as weapons.

Mr Fassett said that this ban had now been lifted.

"They've now reinstated it - just," he said.

"We can now knit on planes. I have to tell the world - high altitude knitting. It can happen."

And he said that in contrast to India's clampdown on knitting, the hobby was catching on rapidly in the US.

"Everywhere in America they're knitting like crazy.

"All the young people are starting to knit. They're finding it very exciting.

"It is the new yoga."

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10 Jan 03  |  England



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