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Hamas thanks Lebanon Education Ministry for restoring Palestinian cause in curriculum

May 31, 2017 10:36 P.M. (Updated: June 1, 2017 9:53 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Hamas movement expressed its gratitude to Lebanese Education Minister Marwan Hamada on Tuesday, a day after the minister reportedly called for reintroducing the Palestinian cause in Lebanon's school curriculum.

Hamas representative in Lebanon Ali Baraka presented a letter of gratitude to Hamada, according to a statement in English on Hamas’ official website, which said that the "current reality" required that the Palestinian cause to remain in the schools' curriculum, “since it is a core issue for all Muslims and Arabs,” and plays an important role in "preparing a vigilant Palestinian generation, and further promotes Palestinian national principles.”

The Hamas representative also said that the Lebanese education minister’s decision “will certainly strengthen the mutual Palestinian and Lebanese relationship.”

The minister’s decision came after an article published by Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar criticized Lebanon's Education Ministry for removing the subject of the Palestinian struggle from history books.

The article reportedly claimed that "these are not isolated incidents, but rather an ongoing process to conceal the efforts of normalization with Israel," adding that this can be "deduced from the views and comments of a number of educators on the deletion of the Palestinian cause from the curriculum," in the years 2016-2017, upon a decision by former Education Minister Elias Abu Saab.

Hamas’ letter of gratitude to the Lebanese education ministry also came a day after Hamas harshly criticized UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, for alleged flaws in the schools that UNRWA administers in Lebanon.

During the 2016-2017 school year, UNRWA provided elementary, preparatory, and secondary educational services to nearly 38,000 Palestinian refugee children enrolled in 67 schools in Lebanon, according to the UN agency.

In an Arabic-language statement, which did not appear on its English site, the Hamas office of refugees affairs in Lebanon called upon UNRWA to "immediately withdraw the tyrannical decisions against the education of our Palestinian people."

The office expressed worry about alleged decisions made by UNRWA “against education” at all grade levels, particularly regarding overcrowding in schools -- “jamming 47 to 50 children in a classroom, which creates problems and encourages dropouts,” Hamas deplored.

The statement also alleged that UNRWA decided on Tuesday to reduce the number of students who are allowed to be held back or repeat grades in Lebanon schools per year -- “regardless of how hardworking or indifferent the students are.”

An UNRWA spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the accusations, or to comment on whether such a quota for allowed “repeaters” existed.

In a statement released Tuesday that more broadly criticized UNRWA, Hamas’ refugees' affairs office said it “called upon UNRWA to end their policy of emptying school curriculum of their national and historic content for the benefit of the Israeli-American project in the area.”

The statement also criticized UNRWA for referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as “Palestinian Authority lands” which Hamas said implied that “that the rest of historic Palestine belongs to the (Israeli) occupation,” and also accused the UN agency of “changing geographical terms,” such as labeling Jerusalem “the holy city of all heavenly religions,” rather than the capital of Palestine.
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