Gov't to Revise References to Jerusalem as Israel's Capital in School Textbooks

The Ministry of Education and Culture will revise textbooks containing references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to improve quality assurance on learning material through a certification mechanism. (JG Photo/Sheany)

By : Sheany | on 6:56 PM December 14, 2017
Category : News, Education, Foreign Affairs

Jakarta. The Ministry of Education and Culture will revise textbooks containing references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to improve quality assurance on learning material through a certification mechanism, an official said on Thursday (14/12).

"The content of those textbooks will be revised; it will now show Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel," Totok Suprayitno, head of research and development at the Ministry, said during a press conference in Jakarta.

He added that the official notification of error will be distributed to schools "very soon." However, the revisions will only apply to books published by the ministry.

A social science textbook for grade six students referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel attracted national attention after the discovery earlier this week.

(JG Photo/Sheany) (JG Photo/Sheany)

The error was sighted amid international uproar over United States President Donald Trump's decision last week to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the announcement of plans to move the country's embassy to the contested city.

Indonesia has been a steadfast supporter of Palestinian independence as part of its foreign policy priorities, and has been very vocal in its condemnation of Trump's decision.

The Education Ministry said the error can serve as a "good opportunity" to educate members of the public, especially young students, on the issue of Palestinian independence.

"This will not just be about changing Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but it will also be an effort to educate the people and tell the youth about the origin of the dispute," Totok said. He added that the revision will also contain an explanation and brief historical background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Use of the textbook, based on the 2006 school curriculum, is also a matter of concern, since Indonesia already adopted a new curriculum in 2013.

Totok said this happened because the 2013 curriculum was still being phased out in some parts of the country.

The circulation of textbooks containing inaccurate information is not uncommon in Indonesia, pointing to a problem of oversight the government has to address.

"We admit that we need to increase our capacity and we believe the first step toward quality assurance is improving the quality of the writers," Totok said.

The ministry currently lacks a certification mechanism for textbook writers, Totok said, but they are working on it to ensure that in future, writers of school textbooks are certified.

He the incident should also be a point of reflection for the stakeholders involved, including teachers.

"There is no guarantee that the books will always be accurate [and] for the sake of learning, educators must always be aware," Totok said, alluding to the fact that the error was only identified after nearly 10 years.

He encouraged all members of society to inform the ministry when they discover such errors.

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