Teachers told to avoid political issues amid concerns over impact of Arab confrontations on schools, colleges
School principals and teachers in Saudi Arabia have been told to avoid taking up political issues in classes.
“All principals and teachers must avoid referring to political cases or sectarian issues that are not related to the curriculum,” sources told local Arabic daily Al Watan. “The education process must remain within its specific frame that is based on the education policies of the kingdom and must be protected from all forms of ideological or political influence.”
Action will be taken against teachers who use their classrooms to discuss or refer to sectarian or political cases, the sources that the daily did not identify, said.
The warning was issued as schools re-opened following the summer vacation.
Scores of male and female teachers are Arab expatriates and there is concern their home issues, mainly the bloody standoff with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the bitter sectarian dimension of the conflict in Syria, could be brought into Saudi learning institutions and used to influence young and impressionable minds.
“The Arab world is going through painful events, dominated by violence, political divisions and ideological conflicts,” Mishal Al Salmi, the deputy chairman of the education and scientific research committee at the Shura Council, said. “Saudi Arabia hosts a large group of Arab brothers who teach at its schools and universities. Everybody should be aware at the beginning of the academic year that the education policy of the kingdom is premised on the fact that classrooms in high schools and lecture halls in universities are purely for education and learning purposes. They are not for political or religious mobilisation or for stoking the political standoffs from which the Arab world is now suffering,” he said, quoted by the daily on Tuesday.
All foreign high school teachers, college instructors and university professors recruited to work in the kingdom should be fully aware of the policies of Saudi Arabia, he said.
“Classrooms and lecture halls should not be allowed to be turned into spaces to incite social divisions or to engage in political or ideological confrontations between students and teachers.”