Going to School in the Middle East and North Africa

By Kwabena Dei Ofori-Attah | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
INNOVATIONS IN THE
CURRICULUM

The provision of education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the responsibility of the individual governments. Each country assumed full responsibility for the provision of education soon after independence (Qubain, 1966). This action was taken in order to include in the school curriculum items and issues that had a bearing on local interests, values, and cultural practices and aspirations. To this end, each country set up a ministry of education to formulate guidelines and oversee the development and implementation of curriculum. All public educational institutions in the region therefore are controlled by their respective governments, through the respective Ministry of Education. Private educational institutions also derive their authority to operate in the region through the Ministry of Education.

Although most of the countries in the region are held together by their religion and cultural practices, educational institutions in the Middle East and North Africa use different curriculum design and mapping strategies. In the countries where Islam is the dominant religion, the core curriculum for all public education institutions is based upon religion, namely, the Quran (Qubain, 1966). Thus in countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, the Quran forms the basis of the core curriculum. In countries where Islam is not the predominant religion, the curriculum is not based upon the Quran. In Israel, the Torah is used in the schools for religious education.

The variety of schools available gives students the opportunity to study new courses in different schools without stepping out of the region. Students who wish to study the English language, for instance, do not have to leave their country to do so. There is an English school in all the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Libya in 1980 forbade the teaching and learning of English in the country, but conditions have changed, and so today, students in

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