Special committee to probe controversial content in school textbooks

Special committee to probe controversial content in school textbooks

June 25, 2019   06:26 pm

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Ministry of Education has appointed a special committee to look into whether content affecting reconciliation or may cause social discord are included in Sri Lanka’s school textbooks.

Issuing a statement, the Education Ministry stated that they have focused their attention towards the claims made by Rishvith Nishaman at the Parliamentary Select that school textbooks on Islam religion since 1980 have resulted in ‘Zahrans’.

“Rishvith Nishaman testifying before the Special Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to inquire into the Easter attacks, stated that, from 1980 until 2015, Sri Lanka’s school textbooks on Islam had included content – especially pertaining to the death penalty – which is not taught in the Quran. These religious content included in the textbooks were toned down from 2015, he further said.

The lesson on crime and punishment in the 1981 Islam textbook for 9th and 10th grades have mentioned the punishments given for 6 crimes and the reasoning and the conditions for the relevant punishments.

Following a syllabus amendment in 2007, page 103 in the textbook mentions the 6 crimes and their punishments, adding that these punishments would result in a noble society without crime and violence.

However, the amendments to the syllabus in 2015 have altered the Grade 11 Islam religion textbook to identify a Muslim who leaves Islamism as ‘Riddith’ and the person who has changed his religion as such as a ‘Murdath’. The death penalty is not mentioned as the suitable punishment for ‘Riddith’. Instead, steps to ensure discipline and bond to the religion have been introduced in its place”, read the release.

Therefore, the Commissioner General of the Education Publications Department Jayantha Wickramanayake categorically confirmed that current textbooks distributed in schools do not contain any controversial content that would cause social discord, the release further read.

Furthermore, a committee will be appointed to finely probe all existing school textbooks to ensure that if there is any content that might damage reconciliation or cause social discord they will not be included in the textbooks published hereafter.

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