Big Brother Rewrites History for US School Children
February 7, 2012
AntiWar.com & The Washington Post
With US backing, Afghanistan's officials think they have found a way to teach Afghan history without widening the fractures among long-quarreling ethnic and political groups: Leave out the past four decades. But when state-funded indoctrination books whitewash entire swathes of relevant history, societal problems don't simply go away. They're compounded.
US-Funded Textbooks Teach
Afghan Children Whitewashed History
John Glaser / AntiWar.com
(February 6, 2012) -- Afghan children are being taught with US-funded textbooks explicitly written to exclude four decades of war in an almost self-satirizing attempt to "bring people together."
"There is no mention of the Soviet war, the mujaheddin, the Taliban or the US military presence," reports the Washington Post. "In their efforts to promote a single national identity, Afghan leaders have deemed their own history too controversial." [See story below.]
When state-funded indoctrination books whitewash entire swathes of relevant history, societal problems don't simply go away. They're compounded. Afghans are suffering on a daily basis from war and yet the US and their Afghan "education" wardens appear to have decided to keep children ignorant of the causes of their country's troubles.
Attempting to erase four decades of history is something extremely beneficial for the criminals, thugs, and extremists that have terrorized the country in that time. US officials and the Afghan Ministry presumably want to prevent Afghans from knowing that the Soviets invaded and slaughtered perhaps over a million Afghans, or that the US helped spur extremist jihadis to power, or that the Taliban forced a delusional brand of religious savagery on the people, or that the US has committed extensive atrocities and war crimes throughout ten years of military occupation. Lucky for the Russians, Americans, and Taliban.
"Our recent history tears us apart. We've created a curriculum based on the older history that brings us together, with figures universally recognized as being great," said Farooq Wardak, Afghanistan's education minister. "These are the first books in decades that are depoliticized and de-ethnicized."
Depoliticized, de-enthicized, and de-factized. The curriculum, which was "reviewed" for "inappropriate material" by people the Post calls "US military cultural advisers," is anathema to education. It does the opposite of what education is supposed to do, instead keeping Afghans ignorant and doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, never having learned from them in the first place.
In Afghanistan, A New Approach to Teaching History: Leave out the Wars
The Washington Post
Educators suggested that the only solution would be to omit the period after King Mohammed Zahir Shah, whose ouster in 1973 ushered in an era of chronic political instability. Among those charged with crafting the new curriculum, there was near-universal agreement. "We aren't mature enough to come up with a way to teach such a sensitive history," Wahidyar said.
Foreign donors reviewed the books to ensure there was no religious content and that materials were well designed, but they made no suggestions related to the omission of recent history, Afghan officials said. The high school textbooks were funded by the US military's foreign aid arm, the Commander's Emergency Response Program.
US military cultural advisers "reviewed the social studies textbooks, grades 10-12, for 'inappropriate' material, such as inciting violence or religious discrimination. Content of these textbooks, such as events or dates, are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education," said David Lakin, a spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan. "There were no discussions between [US military] officials and the Ministry of Education on the teaching of Afghan history."
Despite the broad consensus, some Afghan scholars and educators have pushed back, claiming the new textbooks mark an abdication of the ministry's academic responsibility.
"This will be the biggest treason against the people of Afghanistan. . . . It will be a hindrance to all of our spiritual and material gains over the last four decades," said Mir Ahmad Kamawal, a history professor at Kabul University. "All these young people will be deprived of knowing what happened during this period."
Afghan education officials have begun crisscrossing the country, trying to persuade 8.2 million students and their families that a fair curriculum will emanate from Kabul.
The new history lessons will be taught even in villages still controlled by insurgents. Officials say that if they detailed the atrocities committed during five years of Taliban rule, the textbooks would almost certainly be disputed and discarded. "We're talking about community-building through education, and that includes the insurgency," said Wardak, the education minister. "This curriculum needs to appeal to all Afghans."
Wardak recently spoke to groups of teachers and students in eastern Afghanistan, explaining that they should come to expect uniformity and accuracy in new public school lessons. If sources of tension can be avoided, he said, the Education Ministry might stand a better chance of recruiting the more than 4 million children currently out of school.
"The curriculum is a national one, based on Islamic principles. It's not just for Pashtuns or Tajiks or Hazaras," he said in front of a packed meeting hall in Nangahar province. "The curriculum will bring us all under one roof. It will encourage brotherhood and unity."
Then he toured schools, hospitals and mosques. In one public building, portraits of Afghan leaders over the past 200 years lined the wall. Wardak pointed to a photo of Mohammed Daoud Khan, who assumed power in 1973."That's where the division started," he said, "and that's where our history books end."
Special correspondent Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report.
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