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IWPR prompts Iraq to amend its religious education curriculum

By Abeer Mohammed

2/4/2010 Iraq (Global Arab Network) – An Iraqi education ministry official said an IWPR Iraq special report on sectarianism in the new religious education curriculum has prompted a review of its content.

IWPR’s in-depth report Iraqi School Books Criticised for Sectarian Bias, included interviews with leaders, educators and parents who said they were alarmed that the curriculum might be fueling sectarian views in the classroom.

Senior education ministry officials said that after reading the IWPR Iraq special report they “decided to drop anything from the new [religious education] curriculum that will hurt a specific sect or religion” and to create a separate curriculum for Christian students.

The controversial school books have been pulled from some schools, and new textbooks for Christian students to enable them to learn about their faith are in development.

Islam has long been taught in Iraq’s schools, and until the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 reflected the beliefs of the then-powerful minority Sunni sect.

The curriculum has been gradually amended over the past six years by the education ministry. Critics of the current religious education curriculum, including senior Sunni leaders, said it favours the Shia interpretation of Islam – a highly sensitive issue in Iraq as the country attempts to overcome years of sectarian strife.

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