Thursday, June 02, 2005

Debate on Kuwait's School Curricula: To Teach or Not to Teach Jihad



The terror attacks that occurred in Kuwait this year have intensified the public debate in the country on the extremist nature of the school curricula and on the need for curricular reform. Kuwaiti educators and intellectuals claim that Kuwait's curricula include extremist messages encouraging terrorism, and that members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement who emigrated from Egypt to Kuwait played a central role in devising the country's Islamic education curricula.

Other educators, who occupy positions in the Kuwaiti Education Ministry, argued that blaming the Kuwaiti curricula for extremism and terrorism is not only false but is part of an overall attack on Islam.

At the center of this debate is the question whether the subject of Jihad should be part of the state Islamic education curricula, and the extent to which teaching it contributes to extremist ideology.

The Kuwaiti government has not taken a clear stand on the matter. While Kuwaiti Education Minister Dr. Rashid Al-Hamad has stated many times that the school curricula include no message of extremism, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sabah Al-Ahmad and the Kuwaiti cabinet have called for reexamining the curricula, acknowledging that they do include extremist content that they consider contradictory to the nature of the Kuwaiti state. The following report reviews the public debate currently underway in Kuwait.