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Jordanian Schoolbooks Fail to Teach Kids to Oppose Terror, Educators Says

JAFFA, Israel – Jordanian school textbooks make no reference to the benefits of opposing terror, according to an Egyptian media report in the wake of a bombing that killed six soldiers near the Syrian border on Tuesday.

Aghad newspaper quoted educators who said that awareness of fighting terror and extremism at a national level is completely absent from textbooks, including recently published books.

“There are no guidelines about including these messages in the books,” one of them said.

The paper said that even books that were edited after the current crisis in the Middle East started make no reference to battling extremism, barring a few empty slogans.

“None of the content is meant to provoke the children into making a distinction between good and bad, or into thinking about how to better their society,” the paper said.

Education expert Zukan Ubeidat said that the national program for battling extremism, ratified in 2014, has yet to enter the textbooks.

“The Ministry of Education didn’t change the books at all,” he said. “They are still devoid of any references to extremism, hate, and respect for the other.”

“Tolerance, humanism and generosity are mentioned only in relation to Islam, and the mosque is presented as the only venue of good,” he added. “In addition, there’s no positive take on other people or women. Nothing in the books persuades children to battle extremism and violence.”

“Extremism has accumulated in Jordanian society over the years,” he said, “which is why we need a strong strategy to deal with it.

“Extremism is so entrenched in our society, the product of pre-elementary to higher education. It has led to extremism taking hold among the public and extremist ideas being received with sympathy. This is how the citizen’s worldview is constructed, from childhood, and that’s why they can’t distinguish between an extremist and another person, between an educated and an uneducated person. The worldview that leads to terror and extremism must be dismantled.”

Former Education Minister Ibrahim Badran admitted that the strategy, though existing, is unclear.

“The student needs to understand that law is the sovereign and the way to deal with differences,” he said, adding that the new strategy “makes no reference to pluralism, to art, to philosophy, no perspective on making children think and distinguish.”

Walid Almaani, also a former education minister, said it was hard to judge whether the plan to battle extremism has succeeded or not, but “it is clear that some extremist people still hold key positions in academia.”

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