News / Middle East

    Lebanese Children Learn Abbreviated National History

    Paige Kollock
    Lebanon’s many different sects have their own history, which makes formulating a unified national history challenging.  The 1989 Taif Accord, which ended the 15-year Lebanese civil war, called for civic education to be uniform across the country in order to promote national unity.  But the goal remains unrealized.

    Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005 after a 29-year occupation. 

    A series of popular uprisings preceded the withdrawal, culminating in one demonstration which brought an estimated one million Lebanese into the streets.  The event, dubbed the “Cedar Revolution,” was seen as a main factor in the Syrian departure.

    But Lebanese schoolchildren may never read about it because a ministerial committee recently decided to eliminate the phrase “Cedar Revolution” from a national middle school history curriculum being developed.

    Since 1989, the committee dedicated to agreeing on a national history textbook has repeatedly failed to do so.

    Maha Kassem is the principal of the Green Space School, an elementary school in Beirut. “The people who are in charge of overseeing the unified history book, they are the ones who are involved in these conflicts," she said. 

    Most history textbooks stop in 1943, the year of Lebanese independence, leaving recent history interpretation up to parents, which can further cement a child’s sectarian view.

    Lebanese University history professor Mounzir Jabber says the issue dates back to the Ottoman Empire. "As long as the feeling of identity in Lebanon remains sectarian, it’s [impossible] to talk about history on a patriotic basis," he said. 

    At the Green Space School, which lies on the edge of Christian, Druze and Shi'ite neighborhoods, Kassem says sectarian affiliation makes history lessons sensitive "Sometimes we have to skip certain lessons or summarize them, to avoid some discussions that might cause troubles between the students," she said. 

    Especially when it comes to the 15-year civil war, in which all sects suffered losses and atrocities took place. The country is still recovering physically and emotionally.

    Until then, Jabber says, perhaps it is fine to agree to disagree. “Let each group have its own version of history.  But let's make sure that they are highlighting on the elements that keep them together, not the ones that tear them apart," he said. 

    For now, Lebanese schools often choose textbooks according to their religious affiliation.

     

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    November 11, 2012 4:59 PM
    if you really want to be frightened, find out what Arabs children are taught in schools run by Hamas and Hezbollah and the Palestinian territories - Jordan, Syria, Egypt.... now, that is frighting!!!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora