PA news agency: UNRWA's attempts to change PA curriculum “harm the Palestinian identity and history”
WAFA, official PA news agency - Nov. 9, 2017

Headline: “UNRWA’s enrichment materials: Changing the facts and tear away the students from their reality”
     “Around a week ago, UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) began to train several teachers working in its schools in the enrichment materials and activities that were added to the basic curriculum…
UNRWA began these trainings at the schools in the Gaza Strip. In the next stage they will also take place at the schools in the West Bank and diaspora – Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan; however, the materials that were added are arousing the anger of the teachers and the students’ parents, in whose opinion the concepts, pictures, and illustrations that they contain contradict the truth, distort history and the Palestinian identity, and contradict the thought and culture of the refugees in everything related to their right of return to their homeland, from which they were expelled.
Even though UNRWA Media Advisor Adnan Abu Hasna denied in a phone call that the materials that were added harm the Palestinian identity and history – because it is not within [UNRWA’s] authority to change and amend the [PA] Ministry of Education’s curricula, and because its schools are committed to conveying the curricula of the host states – the copies that we obtained of these materials prove the opposite. When we tried to talk with Abu Hasna about their contents, he refused to cooperate and answer any additional questions.
In one of the activities that were included in the Ministry of Education’s basic curriculum in the subject of National Education, ‘Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine’ was written under a picture of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque… But UNRWA replaced this with a picture under which is written ‘Color the wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.’
In the Science and Life 4th grade schoolbook, in one of the activities the students are asked to talk about malnutrition, and to use the suffering of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison as an example of this. However, according to the outlook of the UNRWA curriculum, this is not appropriate for study, and the activity was replaced with another activity in which the students are asked to find two reasons for malnutrition and note its effect on the human body while using the internet.
A picture that was included in the Arabic Language subject for the same grade, show two young women stricken with fear as a result of Israeli bombing. The students are asked to explain what is seen in the picture, but in the [UNRWA] enrichment material three additional pictures were added, which show that in the end the cause of the fear was a doll thrown on the ground.
Likewise, in the Science and Life subject for 8th grade in one of the examples for the rise in air pollution a picture is used of smoke rising as a result of the bombs that Israel dropped on a residential neighborhood in the Gaza Strip during the attack it carried out in 2014 (i.e., 2014 Gaza war). However, in the enrichment material the example was smoke rising as a result of trees being burned in a forest, in a clear attempt to distort the truth and tear away [the students] from the reality that they experience daily.
Supreme Parents Council Secretary Muwaffaq Kafarneh responded by saying that the teachers refused to complete the training that UNRWA began, but [UNRWA] threatened them with punishment and dismissal from their positions if they do not do this. He emphasized that this is not the first time that UNRWA is trying to convey its policy through the curricula, and said that ‘[the curricula] are as far as possible from the truth that the young generation must know’…
[PA] Ministry [of Education] Spokesman Sadeq Khaddour emphasized that UNRWA must implement what was determined in the laws and regulations, and be strict about conveying the curricula of the host states. He expressed surprise at UNRWA’s attempt to bypass the Palestinian curricula by adding enrichment materials directed at the teachers…
He added: ‘UNRWA must stop [teaching] these materials. This is not the first time that it is attempting to change and amend the curricula, and it has no authority to do this, but it is still insisting on doing this again and again. We reject this idea entirely, and the topic will be dealt with before the UNRWA leadership in order to put an end to its actions.’
PLO Executive Committee member [and Secretary-General of the Palestinian Liberation Front] Wasel Abu Yusuf thinks that UNRWA needs to fulfill its central missions – providing aid to the refugees. He noted that the talk about changes and additions to the curricula are entirely unacceptable, and that this is interference in internal affairs. However, he did not hide that UNRWA is subject to pressures from the US and Israel, whose goal is to cancel its role and change the goal for which it was established… in order to erase the [Palestinian refugees’] right of return, which constitutes a real danger to the Palestinian cause.”