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Development of Sudan's new school curricula halted amid controversy

January 7 - 2021 KHARTOUM
Dr Omar El Garrai - head of the National Centre for Curriculum and Educational Research (SUNA)
Dr Omar El Garrai - head of the National Centre for Curriculum and Educational Research (SUNA)

Yesterday, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok instructed the National Centre for Curricula and Educational Research in Khartoum to stop developing new school curricula as their proposals caused controversy in the country.

In the press statement, he said that he discussed the matter with a wide range of academics, educators, religious leaders, and civil society activists.

The proposed new school books were widely criticised, in particular by Muslim clerics. The criticism even reached a point where Dr Omar El Garai, Director of the Centre, received death threats.

2101 Omar Dafallah - cartoon Sudanese salafist commenting on new school books
Sudanese Salafist comments on a new geography school book. He asks the Sudanese: "Tell me honestly,
shouldn't this boy and girl be covered in order to prevent chaos in the country?" - Cartoon by Omar Dafallah (RD)

 

El Garai’s National Centre for Curricula and Educational Research is, among other things, tasked with the reform of Sudan’s education system.

PM Hamdok stressed that the development of school curricula is a national issue that concerns everyone, and therefore requires a broad social consensus. He has established a new committee that includes the experts concerned and represents "all sectors of the community" to prepare the new curriculum.

The head of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Minni Minawi, tweeted on Monday that “the hate campaign against El Garai, led by a number of imams, is not driven by motives of preserving religion but is rather a political campaign aiming to obstruct change in the country”.

Yasir Arman, deputy head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, also commented on the controversy. He tweeted that the attacks on El Garai, a widely respected educational specialist, are led by the “counter-revolution”, and argued that curricula are sabotaged by the previous regime of ousted President Omar Al Bashir and that the issue requires a conference in which educational specialists will take part..

According to the Minister of Education, Mohamed El Amin El Tom, teachers should also participate in the development of the school curricula.

The minister, who inaugurated the Sudan Education Curricula Conference for intermediate and secondary school stages on Monday, said in his address to the attendees that “the dark phase of the ousted regime has ended”. He also called for the participation of families in the educational process so that  “due concern and attention can be given to the physical and psychological health of the children”.

Last month, it was announced that the re-opening of basic and secondary schools in Khartoum state was postponed because of the second wave of COVID-19 infections.


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