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Saudi Government 's crack down on mediaeval education system

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09th-Apr-2018       
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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
The Government of Saudi Arab with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promoting modernity and reform in his country, has given special attention to education, as it is "the foundation of social values and a major predictor of the direction in which a country is headed."  Of course belatedly the realization for modern education and reform to purge of medieval value framework has come. "The primary goal of Saudi education is to maintain the rule of absolute monarchy by casting it as the ordained protector of the faith". True Saudi society could not advance to the extent desired, as it could not come of middle age ideologies that militate against liberal arts, education, philosophy, drama, and music. As an expert commented:
Since January 2001, I have been writing about how Saudi religious education is dividing our country's population over the interpretation of Islam, and turning classmates into enemies because some of them view our religion in a different way. Since then, I have reviewed all the religious textbooks used in Saudi schools several times and found them to be comprised of medieval ideological indoctrination instead of offering a modern education that would prepare the student for the workplace. The current textbooks do not spare most Muslims from the accusations of polytheism, deviance, hypocrisy, and outright apostasy. For example, the 12th grade book on "monotheism" claims that many in the Muslim world community have returned to polytheism. That could be ignored until you know what the texts teach about polytheists. In the classical Takfiri (declaring others to be outside of religion's bounds) style, the text allows for the killing of apostates and polytheists, and it does not take much to qualify as one or the other. Membership in capitalist, communist or secular groups makes you an apostate, and disagreeing with the Wahhabi/Salafi anthropomorphic characterisation of God makes you
This is simply apolitical. Salman's mission is to create an enlightened society. And he himself is an enlightened man with a cluster of modern values. He is objective and on-ward looking. He desires to cope with modern information age.
His vision is focused on the establishment of an Integrated Educational System with all facilities for modern information and communication technologies.
Nevertheless Saudi education system is difficult to change. According to a report:
The Saudi education system is particularly difficult to reform because it is traditionally one of the main areas where the clerics have influence," says Jane Kinninmont at the Economist Intelligence Unit. "Asserting technocratic control over education may require a power struggle with the conservative clerics."Many reform-minded Saudis were optimistic when Abdullah first announced the changes. Since then, though, the pace of reform has been slow. In the past few months the chance that Saudi's rulers will really take on the clerics has faded. King Abdullah, who is around 87, is recuperating in Morocco after two months of medical treatment in the United States. The slightly younger Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz has spent most of the past two years in Morocco and the United States because of an unspecified illness. Many Saudi observers believe Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, the veteran interior minister who has close ties to clerics and appears lukewarm on reform, has a good chance of taking over after his promotion to second deputy prime minister in 2009.
However Ministry of Education in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is seeking to develop General and Basic skills of all students to enable them, to face modern life requirements, in addition to specialized skills for each profession that covers all professional fields for the young students.  
The Ministry of Education has established the National Center for e Learning, and DistanceLearning (NCeL) to serve as a place where a promising future is built for e learning and distance learning. Salman seems to realize the pressing demand for intenational education system based on science and technology.
Science and technology are becoming increasingly important in modern world. Educators. Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will notice that it has preceded on the basis of a defined ... concerns with the education system as a civilizational demand which it endeavors to meet by the continuous efforts.

(The author is former professor of Chittagong University).

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