June 11, 2007

A struggle for young Palestinian minds

What is happening is very bad as it shifts focus from excellence and rigour in education to a more religious curriculum, something that cannot be measured and applied to a job. We have already seen the results of such an education system in saudi arabia. But we need to keep something in mind. The palestinians elected hamas. So if the palestinians are complaining, they should have thought about the repercussions of their decision while voting for hamas. Not a good situation for a palestinian student. 


KUFR NAMEH, West Bank -- Palestinian children spend more of their school day studying Islam. Critical jobs in public education are filled by Islamic stalwarts. A once-banned social studies reader, crammed with hard-line rhetoric, is now in classrooms.

During a year in power, the Islamic Hamas movement has begun taking control of Palestinian schools and is making changes.

Hamas leaders insist they are not trying to indoctrinate children. But moderate Palestinians say Hamas' goal is nothing less than shaping the political views of future generations.

It's a battle for the Palestinian soul, part of a wider Hamas campaign to expand its influence in all spheres of public life, also including newspapers to unions, said Hanan Ashrawi, a secular former minister of higher education.

"You are seeing the gradual transformation of a largely secular national ... education system and curriculum into a more ideological, closed system," said Ashrawi.

Hamas shares power with the moderate Fatah movement it defeated in last year's election, and the terms of that coalition will keep it in control of the Education Ministry for three more years.

Hamas doesn't have completely free rein in the schools. It's being scrutinized by Fatah and by the largely secular Palestinian intelligentsia. Ashrawi, now an independent legislator, says she has asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate who heads Fatah, to hand control of the curriculum to an independent commission of experts, but has gotten no commitment.

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