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Saudi Arabia

Women depicted in schoolbooks

Photos of women have been prohibited in schoolbooks since the Kingdom started formally educating its citizens in 1926. Recently, as an experiment, English textbooks for high school students showed some photos of women wearing a hijab (headscarf). These photos depicted women according to traditions while they were working as nurses or standing by a telescope in the lab.
The exercises accompanying the photos explain much about the change in attitude about what would be considered traditional jobs for women and girls. The girl in the photo talks about the seriousness of this scientific work, adding that she enjoys life as well. She tells her friends that she aspires to go to university, and share her knowledge and experience with society.
In another lesson, entitled “Changes”, shows a lady in niqab (face veil). She talks about the many benefits for mankind of changes that happened in the last 50 years.
The English textbook will be on trial until the end of this school year, and is subject to amendments if necessary.

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