Education in Arab Countries of the Near East: Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon

By Roderic D. Matthews; Matta Akrawi | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN BELOW SECONDARY-SCHOOL AGE

A VARIETY of institutions which are partially or completely supported and controlled by national or provincial governmental agencies provide education at all levels below the secondary school. The elementary ladder includes the following very different types: kuttabs, compulsory half-day schools, elementary schools, schools for the memorization of the Koran, and rural elementary schools. The primary ladder is made up of nursery schools, kindergartens, and primary schools.


Kuttabs

The kuttab represents early attempts to provide beginning education for Arab boys who were destined to receive training as religious leaders. It is administered by a shaykh who collects fees from pupils, receives grants from religious endowments and subsidies from public funds. Boys are admitted at the age of four or younger and continue for two to four years before being transferred to one of the other types of elementary school, either religious or secular. The kuttab is usually a one-room school in which boys of all levels of progress are grouped together. Emphasis is placed on memorizing the Koran, and each individual progresses at his own rate. Some elementary arithmetic may be taught. Pupils study aloud and at intervals are called before the teacher to recite portions of the Koran. Boys sit on benches or at desks and study with the accompaniment of a rocking motion of the body. It is a noisy school although this apparently does not disturb the pupils. The school is not considered a satisfactory type of school for beginners and is being replaced by compulsory elementary schools, kindergartens, and modern schools for the memorization of the Koran, which offer a wider curriculum than the kuttab.


Compulsory Half-Day Schools

Compulsory elementary schools were established in 1925-26 to eliminate illiteracy quickly and at low cost to the government. They are free

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