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The Politics of Education Reform in the Middle East

The Politics of Education Reform in the Middle East: Self and Other in Textbooks and Curricula

Samira Alayan
Achim Rohde
Sarhan Dhouib
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Education Reform in the Middle East
    Book Description:

    Education systems and textbooks in selected countries of the Middle East are increasingly the subject of debate. This volume presents and analyzes the major trends as well as the scope and the limits of education reform initiatives undertaken in recent years. In curricula and teaching materials, representations of the "Self" and the "Other" offer insights into the contemporary dynamics of identity politics. By building on a network of scholars working in various countries in the Middle East itself, this book aims to contribute to the evolution of a field of comparative education studies in this region.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-461-4
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Achim Rohde and Samira Alayan

    A growing number of studies focusing on education systems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) were published in Western academia during recent years, reflecting international agendas for educational development, or debates triggered by political developments since 9/11 concerning the values taught in schools in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. By assembling a collection of case studies scrutinising recent education reforms and textbooks in selected Middle Eastern countries, specifically with regard to history and social sciences, the present book thus contributes to a body of research that is located in a highly politicised context.


  6. 1 Educational Reform in the Arab World: Directives, Mechanisms and Challenges in Lebanon, Syria and Oman
    (pp. 15-39)
    Nemer Mansur Frayha

    Since the 1980s, educational reform has become a top priority at state and community levels all over the world, including the Arab countries. This chapter analyses the aims, scope and impact of educational reforms undertaken in three selected Arab countries: Lebanon, Syria and Oman. The study identifies a number of similarities and differences between the educational policies pursued in each of these countries. All of them have stuck to a centralised education system in terms of educational policy and administration. Educational reforms in these three cases were motivated by similar objectives, and all of them developed only short-term time frames...

  7. 2 Education Reform in Oman: Evolution of Secondary School Curricula
    (pp. 40-60)
    Salha Abdullah Issan

    The current globalised world order necessitates adequate educational systems. In order to be able to answer to new challenges and needs arising in this context, the educational system needs to be considered an integral part – if not the essence – of the social system, and it requires active participation and cooperation among different societal groups and government and civil institutions in order to stimulate the leadership of the educational development process and its beneficiaries to develop the content of education and to renovate it to address those variables. States have differed in determining the function of education according to ideological, cultural...

  8. 3 Educational Developments in Jordan from the 1950s until Today: Stages and Characteristics
    (pp. 61-79)
    Mohammad Khalil Abbas

    Education in Jordan has witnessed remarkable development, with reform initiatives involving all elements of educational activity, both in terms of quality and quantity (Al-Tal 1978: 95). The history of education in Jordan bears witness to the political leadership’s special interest in education and in its aim to modernise Jordanian society and encourage economic growth. As a result, this stable administration has put Jordan in a position where it has made great leaps forward in a matter of decades, in terms of increased levels of credit and improvements in the quality of educational achievements.

    There are three prominent mileposts that mark...

  9. 4 Major Trends of Educational Reform in Egypt
    (pp. 80-96)
    Iman Farag

    Education in Egypt The evolution of a formal Egyptian education system based on Western curricular models dates back to the early nineteenth century when Muhammad ‘Ali began rebuilding the Egyptian state, military and economy along European lines (1811–1849). His main aim was to train qualified cadres of state administrators and army officers as well as to build up a skilled workforce for the evolving modern industrialised sector of the Egyptian economy. For this purpose, the traditional system ofkuttabschools and religious institutions of higher learning such as the university of Al-Azhar were gradually sidelined by a highly centralised...

  10. 5 On the Impossibility of Teaching History in Lebanon: Notes on a Textbook Controversy
    (pp. 97-111)
    Massoud Daher

    The 1975–1989 civil war shook the foundations of inter-community life in Lebanon. Its strong negative impact on Lebanese society can be seen, among other things, in a decline in the standard of education and an increase in tension between the country’s different sects and denominations. As a result of the civil war, history textbooks slipped out of pedagogical and state control to a degree that threatens the ways in which future generations of Lebanese would see their shared history and the issue of building a united nation. For this reason, the Ta’if Agreement of 1989 that marked the end...

  11. 6 Reconfiguring the Past: History, Memory and Ideology in Egyptian History Textbooks between 1932 and 2009
    (pp. 112-130)
    Atef Botros

    The chapter focuses on Egyptian history textbooks as a means of constructing a collective memory, which plays a key role in determining the features of one’s identity and in depicting the position of the Self with regard to the Other. School textbooks represent an effective means of wide and rapid propagation, and are political tools reflecting dominant intellectual currents in society that are adopted by the State and managed by a group of experts. Specific selected aspects of and interpretations of that past are ultimately presented through textbooks, which serve as a medium for the ‘representation’ of what we need...

  12. 7 Different Layers of Identity in Lebanese Textbooks
    (pp. 131-153)
    Jonathan Kriener

    After fourteen years of civil war in Lebanon, the peace agreement of Ta’if between the parties to the conflict was concluded in 1989. At that point, the great variety of schools existing in Lebanon, often affiliated with one of the country’s numerous confessional groups, were considered to hamper the (re-) building of a common national identity, a crucial factor for re-building a sense of solidarity among citizens that would help prevent further violence. Assuming that education plays a crucial role in the formation of society, the Lebanese politicians who formulated and signed the Ta’if accord included a clause in the...

  13. 8 The Philosophical Foundations of Education and the Range of Its Implications for the Content of Civic Education Textbooks in Jordan
    (pp. 154-173)
    Mustafa Abu al-Sheikh and Yasser al-Khalailah

    The last decades witnessed some rapid developments that triggered important changes in most countries of the world. In the realm of education, the importance modern societies attach to civic education has grown as a result. This has happened particularly during the first decade of the twenty-first century, a decade which has been characterised by differences in values and behavioural norms, increasing violence, the break-down of relations and conflicts of interests (al-Mahrouqi 2008).

    Prescribed textbooks are considered some of the most important means for combating these issues through education. They are the tools used by educational institutions to achieve their specified...

  14. 9 Gender Images in Jordanian Social Education Textbooks
    (pp. 174-193)
    Naseema al-Khalidi

    The social education and upbringing of children are aimed at developing youths’ awareness of acceptable and unacceptable actions and perceptions in any given time or environment. This takes place within a sequence of intentional or unintentional processes which ultimately work to make individuals aware of their different social roles and of how to carry out those roles. It is worth mentioning here that individuals, males or females, discover their identities from the ways that they were treated by the people surrounding them during their upbringing (United Nations Development Fund for Women [UNIFEM] 1999).

    The school remains one of the most...

  15. 10 Images of Europeans in Jordanian Textbooks
    (pp. 194-208)
    Qasem al-Newashi

    Textbooks are considered among the most important tools in the education process. The educational experiences presented to students in textbooks have a clear impact on the formation of their characters and attitudes and on their personal development. These experiences convey specific images or worldviews adopted by the institution or the educational group responsible for preparing the terms of the curriculum and choosing the content of the textbook. Moreover, textbook authors present the different forms of knowledge and the attitudes and skills that the educational system in that country wants to implant in the minds of its students.

    Regarding images of...

  16. 11 History Curricula and Textbooks in Palestine: Between Nation Building and Quality Education
    (pp. 209-236)
    Samira Alayan

    Textbooks play a prominent role in the cultural formation of children. According to Schissler (1989–1990), textbooks and educational materials have a strong influence on students inside and outside the classroom not only because they convey actual knowledge, but also because they convey the images of history, the concepts of time and of political and social representation and values that society wants to pass on to the younger generation.

    Textbooks also endeavour to establish political and social norms for societies and communities, and to transmit their historical consciousness. In addition to this, textbooks are the first and often the only...

  17. 12 Bridging Conflicts through History Education? A Case Study from Israel/Palestine
    (pp. 237-260)
    Achim Rohde

    Much has been said and written regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its political, geographic, military and economic dimensions. So-called soft issues like educational policies and textbooks, too, have been contested among banner bearers of both sides, in the region itself and in international academia. Debates concerning educational issues in this context usually evolve around questions of representation and mutual recognition, often focussing on the humanities and social sciences, which are considered crucial disciplines for shaping pupils’ worldviews and their sense of identity. Unsurprisingly in the context of this bitter conflict, both sides have been trading accusations regarding the content of teaching...

  18. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 261-264)
  19. Index
    (pp. 265-275)