Sudan: Development of Sudan's New School Curricula Halted Amid Controversy

Khartoum — Yesterday, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok instructed the National Centre for Curriculum 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.

Sudanese Salafist comments on a new geography school book. The Salafist asks the Sudanese: "Tell me honestly, don't you think this boy and girl should be covered in order to prevent chaos in the country?" - Cartoon by Omar Dafallah (RD)

El Garai's National Centre for Curriculum and Educational Research was, 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 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, tweeted on Monday that the attacks on El Garai, a widely respected educational specialist, are led by the "counter-revolution". He argued that curricula were affected by the sabotage of the previous regime and that the issue requires a conference in which all specialists can take part and broaden the dialogue around it.

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

The minister, who inaugurated the Sudan Education Curriculum Conference for intermediate and secondary school stages on Monday, said in his address that "the dark phase of the ousted regime [of Omar Al Bashir] has ended".

The minister also called for the participation of families in the educational process so that the 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 elementary and secondary schools in Khartoum state was postponed because of the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

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