KRG plans to Reform Education to Fight Extremism

By Ibrahim Malazada for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

On Sept. 22 and 23, the Dwryan Organization held its second conference in Sulaimaniyah with the participation of researchers and specialists in the field of education. The conference focused on the need to reform the curriculum on two levels.

The first is by replacing the curriculum with a more balanced, civil one. The second is by changing purely religious texts to ones that are closer to the spirit of the age, focusing on peaceful coexistence with nonviolent societal components, in addition to closing some religious schools and replacing them with more moderate schools.

During the 2015/2016 academic year, 39 schools, six institutes and 5,000 students were transferred from the Ministry of Religious Endowments to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research or to the Ministry of Education. But there are still traditional religious schools, called “hojra” in Kurdish vernacular.

Those belong to the Ministry of Religious Endowments. Mariwan Naqshbandi, the ministry’s public relations officer, told Al-Monitor, “There are still 100 traditional religious schools affiliated with the ministry and they comprise 570 religious students, or what they call in Kurdish ‘faqi,’ who receive lessons by clerics in the region of Kurdistan.”

Several changes have been made to the previous religious curriculum. But researcher Bahman Tahir, who teaches elementary school through high school, said that the commission tasked to change the curriculum consisted of seven men and no women, which was reflected in the curriculum’s masculine discourse.

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