Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat- The religious authority in Najaf, Iraq, renewed its objection to the current educational curriculum (which was created under the Saddam Hussein regime) demanding it be changed. Sheik Khalid Al Numani, Vice-President of the Najaf Municipal Council said that ‘the religious community has made its objections known repeatedly regarding this issue, the current Minister of Education has heard our demands and yet no change has occurred’
Sheik Al Numani told Asharq Al-Awsat that ‘the Iraqi people have sacrificed everything for a change in regime and ideas, this includes a change in the educational curriculum which was written during that unjust time and to which more than 35 percent of Iraqi youth study under, and it is they who are calling for this change’
He added that six years after the fall of the previous regime ‘we are still studying under the same education curriculum, and is within the Minister of Education’s power to change this curriculum, yet he has not done so’.
Al Numani went on to say ‘We have Shiite schools, why should we abolish its ideas? It is our right to study these ideas; this is not sectarianism, for it is the right of each community in Iraq to study the ideas of its own community. The study of the historical curriculum of the previous regime should not be imposed on us’ adding ‘what is the value in reconstruction and development if you do not change anything in education?’
Munther Al Hatimi, a member of the Najaf provincial council added ‘It is a human right to study one’s own heritage and religious, but under the previous regime there was an intellectual, scientific, and cultural besiegement, especially with regards to anything Shiite. We are not talking about sectarianism, but it is our right to study our own history, as it is the right of others to do the same’.
The Director of Education in Najaf Majid Sudani told Asharq Al-Awsat that ‘When we visited the senior Shiite cleric in Iraq Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani last year he reaffirmed to us that changing the educational curriculum would be complementary to the colors of the Iraqi rainbow, and that he is against a separate educational curriculum for Sunnis or Shiites, but rather desires a unified curriculum for all religious sects’. He added ‘The Ministry of Education is serious about changing the educational curriculum, but has resolved to do so gradually, towards Islamic education, research, reading, and history’.