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Egypt to help Sudan 'purge education system of extremism'

Egyptian parliament members attend a general session in the capital Cairo on July 20, 2020. - Egypt's parliament greenlighted behind a closed-doors session later today, the possible deployment of troops in Libya to support Cairo's ally Khalifa Haftar, if rival Turkish-backed forces recapture the city of Sirte, the house said. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
Egyptian parliament members attend a general session in the capital Cairo on July 20, 2020 [AFP via Getty Images]

The Egyptian parliament earlier this month welcomed calls for the government to cooperate with Sudan to reform its education system and school curriculum in order to counter extremism.

During a parliamentary session on 7 February, member of parliament Farida Al-Shobashi stated: "The Egyptian parliament encourages the Egyptian ministries of education and endowments to support Sudan in its unique experience in revising its school curricula to cleanse them of extremist content."

She added: "Egypt has experience in combating extremism and confronting takfirist ideas. Therefore, Egyptian experiences must be transferred to Sudan to help it rid its school curricula of any content tainted by extremism."

MP Hatem Bashat affirmed his support for the project, saying at the same session that Cairo must review "the Sudanese curricula and removing any offensive material to Egypt in order to build generations in the two brotherly countries devoid of any destructive ideas."

Bashat referred directly to the committee called the People's Initiative for Strengthening Sudanese-Egyptian Relations, which he is a member of, that was launched by public figures from both countries on 28 January. It came days after Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also announced the formation of such a committee.

That initiative was launched a day after Sudan's Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Nasruddin Mufreh stated: "Sudan decided to rid the school curricula, especially the Islamic education curricula, of the extremist and terrorist ideology to make it consistent with the general framework and goals of moderation."

READ: State-imposed secularism will never work in the Middle East

Sudan's education system, which was implemented under ousted former dictator Omar Al-Bashir, is reported to have contained "extremist" elements, the details of which have not been disclosed. Under the current Sudanese transitional government, the legacy of Al-Bashir is being steadily erased in what its opponents see as a move to secularise the country and its governance.

That erasure is not only taking place with the arrest of former leaders of Al-Bashir's regime, but also in regards to religion in politics itself. In September last year, the transitional government instituted the separation between religion and state, ending three decades of Islamic rule and the role of Islam as the official state religion.

With that secularisation process, Sudan has been setting out its path of new policies such as the normalisation of relations with Israel, and now reportedly the assistance from Egypt in reforming its education system.

Egypt's own Minister of Education Tarek Shawki has also been a prominent figure in the revision and reformation of Cairo's and now Khartoum's education curricula, revealing on 6 February that multiple Arab states aim to implement the Egyptian education system in their own schools.

Shawki was the official responsible for the Egyptian government's firing of over 1,000 teachers in 2019 over their alleged "terrorist" links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and for holding "extremist views." Some of those teachers were reported to have been sentenced to death, signalling the extent to which Egypt has gone to purge its own education system.

READ: Racism and secularism have changed Sudan's treatment of Syrian refugees

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