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Extremism threatens Tunisia schools

By Houda Trabelsi for Magharebia in Tunis – 07/12/12

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Education professionals and parents are increasingly concerned about illegal kindergartens, private schools and Qur'anic schools in Tunisia.

A video titled "Dedication from Children of Unification in Tunisia to Mullah Omar" recently spread on social networking websites, sparking a broad controversy.

Children at one religious school were heard repeating words dictated by a teacher, praising Osama Bin Laden and describing him as "Commander of the Faithful".

The children are seen chanting to bin Laden: "We sacrifice our souls for you, O emir!"

"One of the biggest problems is that some private schools are not subjected to regulations," education inspector Ammar Lammouchi told Magharebia. "They don't apply the Ministry of Education's curricula and, as a result, violations take place.

"Some of these schools teach extremist programmes and a certain type of indoctrination to children," he said. "This is dangerous to children's mentalities" the inspector added.

Nabiha Kammoun Tlili, head of Tunisia's National Kindergartens' Chamber, confirmed that many Qur'anic schools are not under any supervisory authority.

"Women's affairs and education ministries must shoulder their responsibilities and put an end to religious chaos at Qur'anic kindergartens," she told Magharebia.

Tunisian Family Affairs Minister Siham Badi has vowed "to take the necessary legal actions to protect children against religious extremism by establishing regulations and closing the kindergartens that insist on violations".

"The kindergarten system has been around in Tunisia for about 100 years," said Ellissa Azizi, a psychologist at the General Children's Directorate. "However, after the revolution, we noticed other influences, such as religious extremism in some kindergartens."

"The concept of Qur'anic kindergartens wasn't in Tunisia previously," she added. "At the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Family, we're trying to study this new phenomenon by reviewing the regulations which govern this sector, and which have been in place since 2002."

Azizi warned of the psychological effect on children.

"This will undoubtedly affect children in a negative way because they are not subjected to scientific or pedagogical criteria," she explained

Other countries in the region are experiencing a similar phenomenon.

"Based on my own long experience in this field, I think that the most important problems facing us in Morocco is the training of male and female educators in spite of the high demand on these pre-school kindergartens," Mohamed Rmili, an educational inspector in charge of running a group of private schools in Sale, Morocco, told Magharebia.

Rmili added that though Morocco remains committed to the teaching of the Qur'an and of tolerant Islamic values, abuses could "help create an extremist generation".

"The Moroccan state has noticed this issue and started to monitor such schools, but this monitoring was not enough. The government decided to close some of these schools," he added. Meanwhile, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) on November 26th organised a sub-regional meeting in Tunis on pre-school education programmes.

At the three-day conference, officials from Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Algeria discussed the modernisation of pre-school education in member states and establishing an executive working plan.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Reformateur MRE (3/3) 2013-2-21

    For this reason, the curriculum will never fully ban extremism unless the Moroccans mobilise themselves because banning extremism would require banning falsehoods from being taught in our schools, but falsehoods are precisely what the autocrat relies on. On top of this, banning all schools besides state schools would mean that the children of the autocrat and the plutocrats would be required to attend the same schools as all Moroccans, but the autocrat and the plutocrats know that the school system in Morocco is deliberately lamentable and rather than correct this problem, they would rather siphon the country’s wealth and use a little bit of this stolen money to send their children to private schools in other countries.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    Reformateur MRE (2/3) 2013-2-21

    It is moreover very easy for adults to make children believe (that is, dupe them into believing) extraordinarily dishonest things simply by having an adult, caretaker, or guardian repeat the dishonest information. (The explanation is that since I child trusts an adult who takes care of him, the child is prone to trust the information the adult provides.) Every country has what is called in sociology a “nation-building” curriculum (“the building of the nation”) in their public education system, and every country mixes truths with falsehoods and diversions in it. For example, the many so-called developed countries invent deceitful myths about democracy while making electoral campaigns so expensive that the only people who can run for office are billionaires or subservient to billionaires. In Morocco, the deceitful myth is that “democracy = a hereditary autocrat (and his plutocratic entourage), who is not accountable to anyone and who confiscates the country’s wealth and who, on several occasions, has ordered the massacre of people who peacefully oppose him.” This is a falsehood, but from our early childhood, we are lied to and told that this anti-democratic autocrat is the “protector of the democracy”. This is a form of extremism being taught in our schools because it prevents our children from understanding the truth and becoming citizens who participate in a democracy instead of subjects who toil in an autocracy.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    Reformateur MRE (1/3) 2013-2-21

    There is a simple solution to this problem: ban all non-state schools and ban all “hate speech”. If all other schools are banned, then it is easy to monitor the curriculum. Hate speech, that is, speech that incites hatred or violence against a person or group of persons because of their religious convictions, skin colour, language, gender, age or sexual orientation (in short, all things that are biological), is easy to identify as well and therefore easy to ban. People found guilty of going outside the state curriculum and/or spreading hate speech can be reprimanded, which should include reform and psychological therapy in an effort to “fix” their bigotry. However, such laws are not going to be put in place without the massive mobilisation of the population. Why? The answer is simple: Morocco’s politicians thrive off hate speech and off manipulating the education system to indoctrinate Morocco’s youth. From a very early age, for example, we are taught “God, Country, King”. This is not a mistake: it is political propaganda for a hereditary autocrat, and the reason this propaganda begins at a very young age is because of a psychological phenomenon called “belief perseverance” (read the psychologists Lee Ross and Craig Anderson). In short, once a person believes something, it is very difficult to get them to change their beliefs; no matter how much evidence to the contrary you give them.