update deskSchools & Higher Education

Report: Palestinian curricula glorify female terrorism, promote gender inequality

Despite supposed reforms, PA teaching materials instruct that “equality between women and men is a biological lie.”

A girls' school in Gaza. December 1990. Credit: John Isaac/U.N. Photo.
A girls' school in Gaza. December 1990. Credit: John Isaac/U.N. Photo.

On International Women’s Day on March 8, a report found that textbooks used in the Palestinian education system label it an “injustice” to teach gender equality.

The March 2024 report, published by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), examined 13 textbooks and teacher guides that are currently in use and available publicly on online curriculum portals of the Palestinian Authority’s education ministry.

The IMPACT-se findings suggest that despite donor-demanded reforms, textbooks contain elements that violate United Nations principles of gender equality in education. That appears to be the case even as the P.A. signed onto half a dozen international conventions promoting gender equality.

The textbook content also violates UNESCO guidelines for curriculum development, according to IMPACT-se, and a 2023 U.N. Security Council resolution that urges the protection of women and denounces gender discrimination as a contributor to conflict.

“The characterization of women as inferior in Palestinian Authority textbooks reflects a broader and worrying narrative of bigotry in the curriculum, which is continuing to shape the outlook of millions of Palestinian children,” stated Marcus Sheff, IMPACT-se CEO.

“It contradicts international treaties on gender equality that the P.A. itself has ratified,” Sheff added. “In particular, the emphasis on women’s participation in resistance activities as a warped form of gender equality sets a disturbing precedent.”

A 10th-grade teacher guide, for example, includes a video titled “equality between women and men is a biological lie.” A 12th-grade Islamic systems textbook instructs that women are not fit to lead nations, and God placed men “in charge” of women. 

Other examples cited in the IMPACT-se report include learning materials that blame women for being victims of sexual harassment and teach that the only way to achieve equality is through violent jihad. A lesson on that latter glorifies a female Palestinian terrorist.

The Palestinian Authority published an Education sector strategic plan for 2017-2022, with a purported aim of “reforming and developing the education curricula,” focusing on “eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.” 

The plan received more than $21 million in funding from Norway as of last summer.

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