Is Ramayana taught in Saudi Arabia school’s curriculum? No!

Claim

Saudi Arabia includes Ramayana and Mahabharata in the new curriculum for students. The students of Saudi Arabia will now learn the details of Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata under the new curriculum. As part of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s new vision for the education sector in Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, the history and culture of other countries are being studied to provide students with more knowledge about different cultures, including India. The geography book taught in these international schools mentions the “religions and dharma” that were originated or found in and around India. It mentions early Hindu literature Mahabharata and Ramayana in the book’s Arts section.

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Explanation

On January 22, 2024, a lavish ceremony was held to inaugurate the Ayodhya Ram Temple.

In this case, we see much news floating on the internet regarding the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Here the widely shared post claims that “As part of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s new vision for the education sector in Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, the history and culture of other countries are being studied to provide students with more knowledge about different cultures, including India. The geography book taught in these international schools mentions the “religions and dharma” that were originated or found in and around India. It mentions early Hindu literature Mahabharata and Ramayana in the book’s Arts section.” Related posts with similar claims can be seen here, here, and here.

What’s the truth?

As we began our analysis of the claims using pertinent keywords on Google, we couldn’t find any credible reports stating the Ramayana and Mahabharata’s inclusion in Saudi Arabia’s curriculum.

As we conducted an extensive search, we discovered that the rumored claim has been around online since at least 2021, when Padma Shri Awardee Nouf AlMarwaai tweeted about it. Marwaai posted the screenshots of the ‘multiple choice questions’ and wrote, “Saudi Arabia’s new vision-2030 and syllabus will help build a future that is inclusive, liberal, and tolerant. The screenshot of my son’s school exam today in the book of social studies includes concepts and the history of Hinduism, Buddhism, Ramayana, Karma, Mahabharata, and Dharma. I enjoyed helping him study.”

Ibrahim Al-Sulaiman, a well-known columnist, then answered Marwaai’s tweet. He said that freedom of education to communities in private international schools should not be conflated with the curriculum at public schools.

Further investigation revealed that all subjects are taught in Arabic, according to Saudi professor Omar Al-Sabiyy’s tweet, who has 25 years of experience in the classroom. In his post, he said, “I have been a teacher for 25 years… The system in public education prohibits putting questions in the English language except for the English language subject only… These questions may be for Indian schools.”

In 2021, Nouf Almarwaai clarified that her son attends an international school and that the questions were approved by the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia and included in their curriculum. This was in response to the controversy surrounding her tweets. She stated unequivocally that it does not reflect Saudi Arabia’s national curriculum.

According to her tweet, “My tweet about my son’s exam went viral due to the Indian media reports. Let me clarify this, The school is a Saudi well-known INTERNATIONAL School for Saudi & Arabic speakers, the curriculum is approved by the MOE. It’s NOT A NATIONAL Saudi Ministry’s curriculum. I never said that.”

She also added that “I was not contacted by any media before it was published by them.”

The material presented above all suggests that Indian media outlets were largely responsible for spreading the untrue rumors that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata would be taught in Saudi Arabian schools.

Conclusion:

We, therefore, conclude that the widely circulated rumor that Saudi Arabia is integrating the Ramayana and Mahabharata into its national curriculum is untrue. This is outdated information from 2021.

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Indu Meenakshi

Indu Meenakshi is a former Microbiologist-turned-journalist, works as a Sub-Editor at YouTurn. She additionally holds Master’s in Management and English Literature. As a fact-checker, her job entails actively dispelling false information found online, exposing fake news, and raising public awareness.
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