Long-awaited change appears to be on its way. This is according to the recent declaration made last week to the UK parliament by Dr. Andrew Murrison, the former Minister of State for International Development and the Middle East on behalf of the British government, stating that the Palestinians will be implementing changes to their education curriculum for the coming academic year beginning in September 2020.
Murrison’s announcement was made following his expressed concern regarding the increasing rates of learning materials including language of hate and violence in the new textbooks produced by the Palestinian Authority (PA). In response to MP Caroline Ansell on behalf of the government regarding Palestinian curriculum that includes the topics of peace and coexistence, Murrison explained:
“You will be aware of the concerns regarding the teaching material in Palestinian schools and of the active role that we (UK) took in order to ensure that there won’t be any use of inappropriate materials of the sort. I spoke recently with the Palestinian Minister of Education and I know that this issue is at the forefront of their priorities, and that changes will be made towards the beginning of the next school year in September.”
The discussion surrounding Palestinian education curriculum comes against the background of an extensive campaign made by the UK-based IMPACT-se institute, which seeks to expose the increasingly hate-filled content found in new learning materials in the PA’s education system. The success of the campaign led the European Union (EU) along with UK to announce the launching of a thorough investigation into the content of the curriculum to make sure they’re free of incitement, hate and violence. Their main concern is preventing the malicious use of the UK and EU’s aid funds.
Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, stated:
“Minister Murrison’s promise made before the British parliament is greatly appreciated. The UK is situated at the forefront of efforts to pressure the PA in changing its extremist education curriculum. It’s understandable that the British government doesn’t want to supply millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to the Palestinian Ministry of Education to teach their children hate. The problem is what you hear in English isn’t necessarily what you hear in Arabic. For the past two years, we’ve heard Palestinian officials say in English that they will change their textbooks while in Arabic stating that no such change will take place. The British government, the PA and the international community know very well what the problems are with Palestinian textbooks. On September 1st, we’ll know whether the PA was speaking the truth in English or in Arabic.”
PA Curriculum on the International Stage
During the last two years, the nature of the content in Palestinian textbooks has elevated to the forefront of the international agenda. Norway is also taking action by calling to freeze financial aid to the PA’s education system because of incitement found in its new textbooks last November. Similarly, the United States House of Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation requiring the creation of an annual report to Congress provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to determine if there is material inciting violence or intolerance. Furthermore, in an unprecedented decision, last August the UN published a report denouncing the inciting learning material and demanded that they be removed.