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Moral Preaching

To El-Amine, the limits of citizenship and civic education in Lebanon exemplify the fact that education cannot be expected to ‘direct[ly] impact on the society... in terms of value and political content’.78 Indeed, most of the weaknesses of citizenship education in Lebanon can be traced back to the nationalistic and minimalist approach to the subject adopted in the curriculum and textbook. The Taif Agreement entrusted civic education with social cohesion and nurturing a sense of national belonging after the war. It was to do so through a notion of national identity, displacing religious and political allegiances. This approach left no space for reflection on the multiplicity and layering of identities that characterises any plural society: citizenship and civic education ignored communal values and allegiances and did not question the power relations within and between different confessional and political communities.

Thus, according to Frayha, CERD succeeded in formulating a unified citizenship and civic education curriculum because its contents were ‘mainly statements about laws, rhetoric and moral preaching’.79 The divergence between curricular contents and the reality of Lebanese civic and political life undermines the internalisation of feelings of citizenship. Moreover, citizenship and civic education does not cultivate skills conducive to the building of a cohesive democratic state. In particular, it does not provide space for debate or the formulation and conveying of shared, agreed values central to citizenship, despite the clear ‘potential danger in not having, at least, a common aim or universal principles for living together’.80

Ultimately, this analysis of citizenship and civic education confirms that in Lebanon, as in other Arab states, ‘the political commitment to produce independent, creative students has been weak for reasons of selfpreservation - doing so would produce citizens capable of challenging authority - be it political, religious or traditional’.81

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