x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Saudi needs years to change school textbooks, minister says

Saudi Arabia came under criticism by the US State Department following the September 11 attacks over the lack of religious freedom in its school textbooks, and was accused of promoting intolerance.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia needs three more years to change its school textbooks which have been criticised by the US for religious intolerance, the kingdom's education minister said.

"Changing the curriculum is difficult and needs three years" before it can be achieved, Prince Faisal bin Abdullah told participants and reporters at the annual Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh on Sunday.

"We are not satisfied with what we've got, but we have big hopes ... we need time as this is not an easy duty," said the minister.

The ministry is working on "developing curricula that would absorb new visions and promote citizenship, tolerance, and openness towards others ... as well as promoting the participation of women based on equality (with men) in their abilities", he said.

Saudi Arabia came under criticism by the US State Department following the September 11 attacks over the lack of religious freedom in its school textbooks, and was accused of promoting intolerance.

An independent US Commission on International Religious Freedom charged in a report in 2007, following a fact-finding mission to the kingdom, that there was little transparency in the textbook revision process and "intolerant and inflammatory elements" remained in them.

It asked the US government to act against the kingdom's "exportation of extremist ideology and intolerance in education material".