- Title: Changes to school curriculum spark debate, protest in Jordan
- Date: 6th October 2016
- Summary: AMMAN, JORDAN (OCTOBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF STUDENTS WALKING TO SCHOOL SIGN ON BUILDING READING (Arabic and English) 'AL NUZHA PRIMARY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS' STUDENTS WALKING INTO CLASS VARIOUS OF STUDENTS WALKING TO SCHOOL EXTERIOR OF SCHOOL
- Embargoed: 21st October 2016 10:43
- Keywords: books education curriculum protest school student Amman Jordan
- Location: AMMAN, JORDAN
- City: AMMAN, JORDAN
- Country: Jordan
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00352VA3PX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Changes to Jordan's public school textbooks recently sparked anger from parents and teachers, who perceived the amendments as an attack on Islamic values.
Earlier this year, the country's Minister of Education, Mohammed Thneibat, tasked a committee of education experts to study the textbooks and suggest improvements.
The resulted curriculum broadened the content of Arabic and History textbooks to include literary and historic figures from outside the Islamic world, including Nelson Mandela. References to Christians as a component of the population were also included into some books.
The changes sparked anger among parents and members of the Teachers Association. Hundreds staged a protest last Thursday (September 29) denouncing the new curriculum and calling for the resignation of the minister.
The demonstrators also set a large pile of the new books on fire.
"We are here to protest against the changes to our curriculum, which was stripped of verses and the Hadith, as well as all those (verses) related to our proud history and our brave martyrs. I want to point out that the Teacher's Association is not against the development of our curricula, but we are for scientific development that is in line with our religion, Islam, and with our customs and traditions," said Head of the Teachers Association, Basel Freihat.
One protester said she wanted to raise her children with an awareness of Islamic culture and history, just like how she was raised.
"We have come here today to defend our children's future, and to protect our country Jordan. I want my son or daughter to have a religious identity, to be aware. It is not logical to remove all the verses of the Quran, all the Hadith, on which everyone was raised. Even the minister, the doctor, the engineer, everyone in this country was raised on this curriculum, why do you want to change it now? " said Um Shatha.
But Thneibat countered these criticisms, blaming the anger of the public on misinformation spread on social media.
In a news conference held on Wednesday (October 5), Thneibat said pictures of foreign textbooks unrelated to Jordan's new curriculum were posted on Facebook in an attempt to mislead the Jordanian public.
"I want to assure you that our school books do not contain a single word that is at odds with our religious ideology or our religious texts. On the contrary, the (books) reinforce Islamic and humanitarian values and encourage dialogue, respect the others' opinion, as well as respect the humanity of people no matter who they are," said the education minister.
During the news conference, Thneibat showed pages from the amended textbooks, which countered claims that all pictures of veiled women were removed from the new curriculum, and that all verses of the Koran were stripped of the books.
More than 1.4 million students around the country have gone back to their classrooms this September, with the new curriculum textbooks in their book bags.
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