After the October 25th coup d’etat, and in an attempt to erase traces of the transitional period the coup had disrupted, the Ministry of Education decided on taking subjects off the general education curricula under the guise of them containing “lessons against the Islamic faith” that were introduced into the curricula by former national curricula director Dr. Omar el Garrai.
AlTaghyeer: Sara Taj al-Sir
Conversely, a formerly “deleted” educational content, a quotation from the book “The Characteristics of the Islamic Nation” by recently-deceased Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, has also been re-included in the Islamic education curriculum for the third secondary grade.
It is worth noting that Al-Qaradawi’s book works as a framework for Muslim Brotherhood thought; a matter which confirms that the change in curricula has political aspirations.
What happened to the curriculum after the coup?
Days before the start of the new school year scheduled for the second of coming October, the Minister of Education in charge of the coup, Mahmoud Sir Al-Khatim Al-Houri, announced that the curriculum document states that it does not include any political orientation, and criticized el-Garrai and accused him of placing “negative” political references in science and Arabic classroom books.
However, opponents of Al-Houri’s policies have accused him of reintroducing “outlawed lessons” that heavily promote Muslim Brotherhood ideology.
The former director of the National Center for Curricula, el-Garrai, demanded the Minister of Education in charge to clarify the negative political indicators that he added to the curriculum. He revealed to AlTaghyeer that there was “no bigger of a negative political indicator more than bringing an employee into the administration and monopolizing three jobs for him, namely, the head of the examination department, the undersecretary of the ministry, and the designated minister!”
Al-Garrai did not rule out the coup regime bringing back the omissions from Al-Qaradawi’s book or Sayyid Qutb for the third secondary stage, to finalize the return of all aspects and characters of the deposed regime, as well as to expel the “revolutionary” employees and fill the ministry with employees of the bygone era as it was.
Changing curricula; Education or Ideology?
The Director-General of the National Center for Curricula and Educational Research in Bakht al-Ruda, Dr. Muawiya Al-Sir Gashi, emphasized to AlTaghyeer the principle of the national curriculum, and its representation of the Sudanese society with its diversity.
He made it clear that the issue of adding and deleting subjects and lessons from the curricula was a normal issue, and has always been always for educational and technical considerations.
On the other hand, the writings of Sudanese intellectuals have heavily criticized educational curricula in Sudan for perpetuating a single cultural identity, and stuffing it with political Islamic ideology, as well as for not keeping pace with scientific and technological developments and modern means of education.
In the latest UNICEF report, it was stated that 6.9 million Sudanese children are out of school, and that 70% of Sudanese children over the age of ten cannot form a simple sentence, indicating a complex educational crisis in the country.
The currently available education is of poor quality, the school environment is collapsing, and the surging costs have become so high that millions of children are deprived of it.
The interventions that took place in the school curricula after the fall of al-Bashir’s regime were described by observers as “unplanned”, not meeting technical and educational standards, and there were not enough economic and human resources qualified to make ambitious changes in the educational process.
The Executive Director of the Ministry of Education in the pre-coup transitional government and member of the Sudanese Teachers Committee, Sami Al-Baqir, told AlTaghyeer that the Islamic Education Book for the third secondary grade witnessed the reintroduction of deleted parts from an entire chapter in the name of the characteristics of the Islamic nation, taken from a book of the same name by Al-Qaradawi.
Dr. Muawiya Al-Sir Gashi justified the omission, saying that it did not include lessons that dealt with the December revolution for political reasons, but rather for educational and technical aspects related to the way these topics were formulated and inserted in the context of some courses, and pointed out that the values that the revolution advocated of freedom, democracy, justice and peace are fully and fundamentally included in the curriculum for all educational stages.
Regarding Al-Qaradawi, Gashi said that they had “directed an investigation about it and now all secondary education curricula are subject to revision on the same principle of distancing the educational curricula from any political orientation.”
The content of general education curriculum in Sudan during the former regime’s era has no inclusion of the values of democracy, freedom and justice, but rather an undermining of these values.
The lessons of Islamic education include explicit discrimination against women and non-Muslims, as well as the application of Islamic law and “rule by what God has revealed.”
As for the compulsory curricula of Islamic culture in institutions of higher education, it includes a fierce attack on democracy and classifies democracy, secularism, and socialism among destructive doctrines and misleading ideas.