Dr. Anon Groiss-200x157

A Middle East Scholar’s Impressions of the George Eckert Institute Report on Palestinian Textbooks

The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research recently completed its research of 174 Palestinian Authority textbooks and 16 teachers’ guides for 2017–20, grades 1-12, plus an additional seven textbooks published by the PA and modified by Israeli authorities for use in East Jerusalem schools. The research was initiated by the European Parliament upon requests by some members who had expressed concern about antisemitic and anti-peace contents found in the books by previous researchers, chiefly the teams of the Institute for Monitoring Peace And Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) and me, through consecutive studies of these books from 2000 to 2020. The European Union financially supports both the PA and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine refugees (UNRWA) that uses these books as well, and it was necessary to ascertain the existence of such contents in the books prior to making further decisions [regarding continued support]. Having studied the attitude to the “Other” and to peace in various Middle Eastern curricula, including that of the PA, I was curious to look into GEI’s report. The following is my initial impressions of its findings…  Complete Impressions HERE

The Economist_Travails of Teaching Arabic

The Travails of Teaching Arabs Their Own Language

God, says the Qur’an, chose Arabic for his revelation because it is easy to understand. But many of the world’s 470 million Arabic-speakers beg to differ. According to a report by the World Bank, almost 60 percent of ten-year-olds in Arabic-speaking countries (and Iran) struggle to read and understand a basic text. Despite decades of investment in education, the Middle East and north Africa still suffer from what the report calls “learning poverty.” “School systems don’t see the importance of engaging kids in reading—or don’t know how,” says Hanada Taha-Thomure, one of the authors. “It creates a gap between children and their language. Many can’t read or write an essay.” The root of the problem is bad teaching. Arabic lessons are dull and focus on fiddly grammar. Classrooms often have no printed material. Few schools have libraries. Teachers tend to lack “sufficient mastery of the language itself,” says the report. In universities across the region, Arabic departments, along with religious studies ones, attract students with the lowest grades. Arab education ministries are waking up to the problem. Egypt has developed a trove of online material to bypass the traditionalists. The UAE has begun fitting classrooms with “reading corners.”….  Complete Article  HERE

WP_Returning to Shuttered Schools

As Most Students Return to Classrooms, Schools in Some Countries Have Been Shuttered for 18 Months Straight

Students across much of the world are trading in Zoom widows for chalkboards, in a global moment of hope and apprehension. In some places, including parts of the United States, many school doors shut for a year and a half have swung open, even amid resurgent coronavirus outbreaks. In five countries—Bangladesh, Kuwait, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela—in-person schooling was paused nationally for 18 months. In the Philippines and Venezuela, there’s no end in sight. Many of the countries that have seen the longest pauses in classroom education were among those least equipped to transition to remote learning. Students are facing dire consequences, teachers say. For many teachers, the situation seems desperate, said Raymond Basilio, the secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a large organization of education workers in the Philippines. Of the nation’s approximately 27 million students, only around 14 percent participated in online schooling last fall, according to a survey conducted in November 2020. Families with resources, Basilio said, are more likely to have the means and wherewithal to buy sufficient Internet access and enroll their children in online school. They can also hire tutors to help their children keep up with unsupervised lessons. “That story is not the story for students who are the children of farm workers, children of fisher folk or urban poor workers,” he said.  Complete Article  HERE

IMPACT-se Review of GEI PA Report_Image of Palestinian wielding slingshot

IMPACT-se Review: The Georg Eckert Institute Report on the Palestinian Curriculum

The 2021 Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research report into Palestinian Authority textbooks is a welcome addition to the corpus of knowledge about the most recent iteration of the Palestinian national curriculum. Commissioned by the European Union, this report identifies many of the same systemic problems that other research institutes have brought to light over the past several years: Palestinian textbooks feature content that promotes the glorification of terrorism and martyrdom, violence, antisemitism and hate. The report, however, fails to provide a complete and accurate picture of the state of the PA curriculum. It exaggerates positive features, minimizes negative aspects, and refrains from drawing meaningful conclusions about self-evident problematic findings. It examines minor aspects of the textbooks without attempting to describe how they fit into the greater narrative of the PA curriculum. Overall, the report does not discuss the likely effect of the curriculum on Palestinian students, nor what type of Palestinian national civil society may emerge as a result. These errors and omissions will leave an unwitting reader with an unrealistic understanding of the PA textbooks, which is unfortunate given the time and effort that went into preparing the report. Complete Review HERE

BESA_Mideast Shapes_Doha Schoolchildren-Attend Exhibition (Vinod-Divakaran)

Through Education Middle East Powers Vie to Shape the Next Generation of Muslims

Education is emerging as a major flashpoint in competing visions of a future Muslim world. Rival concepts being instilled in the next generation are likely to shape what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam. Reports published earlier this year by the Israel-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) chart a notable divergence in educational approaches across the Muslim world. At one end of the spectrum are Pakistan and Turkey, two of the more populous Muslim countries. Their claim to leadership of the Muslim world is rooted in conservative if not ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam that increasingly shape their education systems. Saudi Arabia and the UAE reside at the other end of the spectrum with their reduced emphasis on religion in education and emphasis on science as well as religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue. Straddling the two approaches is Qatar, the world’s only other Wahhabi state alongside Saudi Arabia—even if it adhered to a more liberal interpretation long before the rise of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.  Complete Article HERE

Girls’ Education ‘Worth Fighting For’, Malala Tells Education Summit

“The world is facing a girls’ education crisis,” with more than 130 million girls missing out on school around the world, Malala Yousafzai has warned. “Their futures are worth fighting for,” the education campaigner told a global education summit in London. She said the recovery from the pandemic had to mean fair access to education. The Global Partnership for Education summit wants to raise $5bn (£3.6bn) to support education in some of the world’s poorest countries. Hosted by the UK and Kenya, it will raise funds for the next five years, creating an extra 88 million school places and supporting the learning of 175 million children. The pandemic has exacerbated the problems already facing schools in poorer countries – with warnings that children who were forced out of school because of coronavirus might never return. The UK has promised £430m and other donor countries will be making pledges—with about $4bn (£2.9bn) of the total expected to be promised by Thursday, in what is claimed as the biggest ever education fundraising event. Malala, a Nobel prize winner from Pakistan who has campaigned for female education, told the summit of the importance of investing in education, particularly for girls who don’t have opportunities “just because of their gender.” Complete Article HERE

VOA UNESCO, UNICEF-Urge School Reopenings

UNICEF, UNESCO Urge World Leaders to Reopen Schools

World leaders should prioritize reopening schools for in-person learning immediately in order to avoid a “generational catastrophe,” UNICEF and UNESCO said in a joint statement Monday. The organizations said that keeping schools closed to 156 million students in 19 countries, due to COVID-19, is causing potentially irreparable damage to child development. They also pointed out discrepancies in reopening strategies, which have often opened bars and restaurants while keeping schools shut. “Closing schools mortgages our future for unclear benefits to our present,” the statement read. “We must prioritize better. We can reopen schools safely, and we must.” The statement comes before the convening of the 2021 Global Education Meeting, an annual event organized by UNESCO that brings together prominent education leaders to address global efforts to improve education. Last year, leaders at the 2020 GEM agreed to a 15-month education plan focused on recovering from the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic and staying on track with other educational goals. UNICEF’s and UNESCO’s primary argument for reopening schools now centers around mitigating the negative impacts of 18 months of school closures…. Complete Article HERE

Chron of Higher Edu_Escaping Oblivion

Escaping Oblivion

Nhial Deng couldn’t sleep. In late March the slender young man with deep-brown eyes lay under a low sheet-metal roof. He was thinking about a place he had never seen but often imagined. A famous bronze gate stood there, and soon he would know if he would one day walk through it. Long after midnight, Deng’s mind galloped far away from the Kakuma Refugee Camp, a vast stretch of mud-brick and concrete shelters in northwestern Kenya. The 22-year-old arrived there more than a decade ago, and each year felt heavier than the last. The camp was a cage. He wanted out. He wanted to go to college, too. Just 3 percent of college-age refugees in the world are enrolled in higher education. He wanted to study in the United States, believing it’s a gateway to another life. He was stateless, separated from his parents, with no savings. He was also a reader, storyteller, and community leader who held learning sacred. “Education is all I yearn for,” he wrote in his college application essay. “If I am not a student, I am oblivion.”  Complete Article HERE

NYT-Education Threat to Extremism-

Education Poses an Existential Threat to Extremism

Lying in her hospital bed in Kabul, Afghanistan, having survived an extremist group’s bombing that killed more than 80 students at her school, a 17-year-old named Arifa was as determined as she was frightened. “I will continue my education, even if I’m afraid,” Arifa, who hopes to become a doctor, vowed to Richard Engel of NBC News. Afghan girls and boys may lack books, pens and laptops, but in their thirst for education, they have plenty to teach the world. Indeed, one of the few things the extremists and the students seem to agree on is the transformational power of education, especially girls’ education. In some hideous way, perhaps it was rational for fundamentalists to blow up the school, because girls’ education poses an existential threat to extremism. That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. It’s why the Afghan Taliban threw acid in girls’ faces. In the long run, a girl with a book is a greater threat to extremism than a drone overhead. “The way to long-term change is education,” said Sakena Yacoobi, a hero of mine who has devoted her life to educating her fellow Afghans. “A nation is not built on temporary jobs and mining rights, contractors and political favors. A nation is built on culture and shared history, shared reality and community well-being. We pass these down with education.” Complete Article HERE

IPS-EducationCannontWait_Refugee Children

Refugee Children Explain How Education Helped Put Their Trauma Behind Them

Eighteen-year-old Chuol Nyakoach lives in the Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia. Chuol is grateful that despite the trauma she has already experienced in her young life, she is able to continue her education in the refugee camp. Learning has given her a reason to wake up every day. “My life has changed and ECW’s [Education Cannot Wait] education has given me something to look forward to every day in my life. In the future, I hope that I will be able to help my community and my country using the knowledge that I am gaining now in my education while a refugee,” Chuol told IPS. The Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp is the largest in the area, comprising some 82,000 South Sudanese refugees, many of whom fled their homes in South Sudan after the escalating conflict in 2016 forced thousands to cross into Ethiopia through the Pagak, Akobo and Burbiey border points. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 68 percent of those who live there are children and adolescents under the age of 18, who need to continue their education. “I really appreciate all that has been done in support of refugee children like us. Because of ECW’s work we have been able to receive education for almost two years now in a safe environment,” Chuol told IPS. A three-year Education Cannot Wait (ECW) initiative was announced in February 2020, which aims to help provide education to 746,000 children, addressing the specific challenges holding back access to the quality education of children and adolescents in communities left furthest behind due to violence, drought, displacement, and other crises. ECW is the world’s first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises.  Complete Article HERE