Saudi students sit for their final high school exams in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah in 2010
Saudi students sit for their final high school exams in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah in 2010. Saudi Arabia needs three more years to change its school textbooks which have been criticised by the US for religious intolerance, the ultra-conservative kingdom's education minister said Sunday. © Amer Hilabi - AFP/File
Saudi students sit for their final high school exams in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah in 2010
AFP
Last updated: January 22, 2012

Saudi needs years to change school textbooks says minister

Saudi Arabia needs three more years to change its school textbooks which have been criticised by the US for religious intolerance, the ultra-conservative kingdom's education minister said Sunday.

"Changing the curriculum is difficult and needs three years" before it can be achieved, Prince Faisal bin Abdullah told participants and reporters at the annual Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh.

"We are not satisfied with what we've got, but we have big hopes... we need time as this is not an easy duty," said the minister, who is known for his moderate views.

The ministry is working on "developing curricula that would absorb new visions and promote citizenship, tolerance, and openness towards others... as well as promoting the participation of women based on equality (with men) in their abilities," he said.

Saudi Arabia came under criticism by the US State Department following the September 2011 attacks over the lack of religious freedom in its school textbooks, and was accused of promoting intolerance.

An independent US Commission on International Religious Freedom charged in a report in 2007, following a fact-finding mission to the kingdom, that there was little transparency in the textbook revision process and "intolerant and inflammatory elements" remained in them.

It asked the US government to act against the Islamic kingdom's "exportation of extremist ideology and intolerance in education material."

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