Lessons in Saudi history to foster cultural identity



JEDDAH: KHADIJA HABIB

Published — Thursday 19 September 2013

Last update 22 September 2013 2:52 am

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Teaching youngsters the history, culture, religion, citizenship and economic progress of the Kingdom can help unify the country and promote patriotism, according to experts.
Saleh Al-Romaih, a sociology professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, said that with time, the information gleaned from these classes would become embedded in the personalities of students.
Al-Romaih told Arab News this would happen because the material teaches students morals and highlights the efforts of the country's institutions. It also educates them about their duties and rights. As this information is gradually absorbed by the students, it will transform from a passion into a mindset, he said.
Al-Romaih said the course is of greater value because it is not compulsory. Students are not under pressure to perform and are more ready to accept the information. If the material becomes part of the curriculum, it would be like any other course, he said.
He said the scientific material currently offered in the National Education course is satisfactory and does not require any additions or changes. However, it should be taught by qualified teachers with specific training to make the subject matter interesting and simple. He suggested teaching the information through workshops to allow for greater discussion among students.
Abdullah Al-Shahrani, an educator at a public school in Jeddah, said the National Education course encourages and develops aspects of religious sensibility because it emphasizes the importance of prayer. It also defines social institutions in residential neighborhoods, and familiarizes students with the concept of systems and societal regulations related to daily life.
"As students move from one stage to another, the curriculum evolves to make them more aware of different concepts such as citizenship, the role of imams, scientists, the kings of Al-Saud and the Islamic faith. It also informs them about the achievements of this country.” He said the course makes students aware of the concept of tourism in Islam, tourism areas in the country, and the factors creating unity and integration between Islamic countries.
Al-Romaih said women should also take up the course because they form half of Saudi society. Women need such courses because they are citizens with responsibilities and duties toward the development of the community and have rights. They would also learn new ways to instill the Kingdom's values in their children.

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