This week, the Palestinian Cabinet approved plans to reform the Palestinian Authority (PA) curriculum before the start of the 2020-2021 school year in response to ongoing pressure from the European Parliament.
An Arabic-language press release emphasised that the new curriculum would preserve and protect “the Palestinian narrative and identity, and the strategic directions of the state”, underlining that any development of the curriculum would be an “independent Palestinian national decision… with the aim of providing the best education for our students”.
Proposals put forth by Palestinian Education Minister Marwan Awartani also included the establishment of a national curriculum centre.
The announcement followed last week’s passage of three separate resolutions through the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union, condemning the PA for continuing to include hate speech and violent material in school textbooks.
The legislation said the European Parliament “is concerned that problematic material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed and is concerned about the continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence in school textbooks”.
It added an insistence that: “Salaries of teachers and education sector civil servants that are financed from [European] Union funds… be used for drafting and teaching curricula which reflects UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence”. A further clause stressed the need to “guarantee that no Union funds… are used to finance textbooks and educational material which incite religious radicalisation, intolerance, ethnic violence and martyrdom among children”.
Given the prevalence of incitement within the Palestinian curriculum, this could impact future aid payments to the PA. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a research organisation that monitors and analyses textbooks, said it would review the new textbooks to determine whether “radical and systematic ideas of violence, martyrdom and jihad” have been removed.
In March, former school teacher and new Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis led his first Westminster Hall debate on the subject of radicalisation within the Palestinian school curriculum. 20 Conservative MPs were in attendance in the debate, which focused on concerns about the content of the Palestinian Authority’s school textbooks which contain incitement of hatred, martyrdom, and violence towards Israelis.
The debate followed an exposé in the Daily Mail at the start of the year, which laid bare the disturbing content of textbooks, and MPs have raised the issue on numerous occasions in the House of Commons in recent years.