Saudi Arabian textbooks show improvements - IMPACT-se

The research on the Saudi Arabia school curriculum shows a continuing trend of improvement and dramatic changes over the span of one year.

Empty classroom at Cramim school, Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem, October 21 2020 (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Empty classroom at Cramim school, Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem, October 21 2020
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

A new IMPACT-se report finds further dramatic improvements in Saudi textbooks in 2021. 

The research on the Saudi Arabian school curriculum shows a trend of continuous improvement and dramatic changes over the span of just one year. The textbooks have removed or edited several lessons demonizing Jewish people, Christians, and other "non-believers."

An entire textbook unit on jihad was taken out of the curriculum, the unit advocating violence to spread Islam and protect Muslim land. 

Teachers' submissions for the ''Classroom Look in Lockdown'' project. (credit: Courtesy)Teachers' submissions for the ''Classroom Look in Lockdown'' project. (credit: Courtesy)

Items removed from 2021 Saudi textbooks include forbidding friendships with Jews and Christians, called "infidels" as they are "enemies of God" and lessons justifying and praising violence and murder on behalf of the Prophet Mohammad. 

“The trend of significant reforms to the Saudi textbooks that we noted last year is continuing, reinforcing the view that we are witnessing a clear Saudi governmental policy of making rapid improvements to its textbooks in line with standards of peace tolerance in school education," says Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se.

"The country’s rulers have stated their aim of preparing Saudi children with the skills to positively interact with the different cultures and world-views that they may encounter, and this textbook reform is a key element. The improvements this year build on the significant changes instituted in 2020, following our report being presented to the Saudi authorities. IMPACT-se is gratified that so much of the offending material that we noted has now been removed.”

However, problematic content remains. Little progress has been made on the basis of gender, as well as hostility toward "Zionists." There are also harmful lessons about polytheists still present.