Saudi Arabia: Efforts to include human rights in syllabuses

Publication Date: 
September 7, 2011
Arab News

JEDDAH: Chairman of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) Mufleh Al-Qahtani has said the organization is making efforts to introduce the subject of human rights in higher and general education syllabuses in Saudi Arabia.

“The organization has put a special emphasis on this issue, held seminars and carried out activities in this regard,” he said on Tuesday.

Al-Qahtani said a joint workshop between the organization and the Ministry of Education made specific recommendations on the issue that were currently being studied.
“We are still debating whether to teach human rights as a separate subject or include it as part of other existing subjects,” he said.

The chairman said he personally preferred teaching human rights as a separate subject because it would have a better impact. “This is better than including human rights as part of other subjects,” he added.

He underlined the importance of teaching human rights at the very early levels of general education and said this would improve the behavior of human beings and spread a culture of tolerance and respect for others.

A debate on introducing the subject of human rights in school and university syllabuses is nothing new in the Kingdom.

A number of lawyers told Arab News that a workshop was held in Riyadh about two years ago that called for introducing the subject in the higher education syllabuses.

They said the subject was actually introduced in some universities as a primary subject for undergraduate students and as an optional one for postgraduate students.

The subject was also introduced in the syllabuses of military colleges, including King Fahd Security College in Riyadh.

Director of syllabuses at the Ministry of Education Saleh Al-Shaie said last year that general education students would be taught the subject from 2011.

However, some reports said plans to teach human rights in the Kingdom's schools and universities were not approved, as it was considered not in line with the religious and social nature of Saudi society.