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Koran is "prescribed material" for Leaving Cert Arabic.

  • 19-04-2016 8:10pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 13,993 ✭✭✭✭ recedite


    A requirement that all students who sit the Arabic exam in the Leaving Cert must study the Koran is to be reviewed by education authorities.
    Ever since the subject was introduced to the Leaving Cert in 2004, extracts from the “Holy Koran” have been prescribed material for all candidates.
    However, a Syrian father whose Christian daughter is due to sit the exam says the requirement is unfair for students and discriminatory....
    From Irish Times
    This is what happens when religious authorities are allowed to get involved in setting state exams and curricula.

    I suppose in fairness to the Dept of education, there is no really "secular" arabic authority to go to. A small number of religious authority figures at the mosques tend to give the impression that they represent the Arabic speaking community in Ireland. Even the embassies of Arabic speaking countries cannot be considered entirely secular, as they generally do not have a complete separation of church and state in those countries.

    But now that the Dept. of Education is aware of the issue, lets hope they act swiftly to remedy the situation.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,119 ✭✭✭✭ One eyed Jack


    You read your own article surely?


    "In a statement, the State body for development subject material, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), said the Koran was included on the basis of its linguistic and literary value and not because of its association with religion.

    It said the requirement for questions based on the Koran are explicitly stated in the syllabus.

    In the Arabic exam, candidates are presented with three texts: an extract from the Koran, a portion of Arabic verse and an extract from a work of modern Arabic prose.

    The questions related to the Koran are mandatory for all candidates, while candidates may choose from a portion of verse and modern prose."


    This case has as much to do with discrimination as King Lear being prescribed material for the English exam is discriminatory to teenagers who only understand txt spk.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,508 ✭✭✭✭ eviltwin


    That's the only book they could pick? Really??


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,653 ✭✭✭✭ lazygal


    King Lear is a religious text now?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,938 ✭✭✭ galljga1


    I was hoping the heading was a misprint and it actually should have been "proscribed".


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,331 ✭✭✭✭ Orion


    "In a statement, the State body for development subject material, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), said the Koran was included on the basis of its linguistic and literary value and not because of its association with religion.
    ...
    This case has as much to do with discrimination as King Lear being prescribed material for the English exam is discriminatory to teenagers who only understand txt spk.

    Would you equally agree with the Bible being mandatory reading in the English syllabus? That statement from the NCCA is crap. A religious text should not be part of a language syllabus. There are other books they could use.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,119 ✭✭✭✭ One eyed Jack


    lazygal wrote: »
    King Lear is a religious text now?


    It was an analogy to demonstrate that the use of the Koran in the context of an examination of the Arabic language is as discriminatory as using Shakespeare in an English exam.

    If you prefer then, it's as discriminatory to an atheist using the Bible in an English exam. It's not being used in a religious context, but simply because it's one of the most widely known books in the English language, the same as the Koran is in the Arabic language.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,119 ✭✭✭✭ One eyed Jack


    Orion wrote: »
    Would you equally agree with the Bible being mandatory reading in the English syllabus? That statement from the NCCA is crap. A religious text should not be part of a language syllabus. There are other books they could use.


    I'm not seeing how it would be discriminatory if that's what you mean? It's considered one of the most important and influential works in many different languages, and is considered in it's historical context by historians.

    The way I see this going is the same way some universities are going introducing trigger warning nonsense and excusing students from studying important and influential works of literature. Imagine parsing the complete works of Shakespeare through a trigger warning lens? You wouldn't be left with enough material for an A4 page! :pac:


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Regional North West Moderators Posts: 6,811 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cherry Blossom


    Was there not a higher Irish paper once where the LC candidates were asked to write about the popes visit to Ireland or did I dream that up?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    Orion wrote: »
    Would you equally agree with the Bible being mandatory reading in the English syllabus? That statement from the NCCA is crap. A religious text should not be part of a language syllabus. There are other books they could use.
    It came up on the other thread, but the KJV would be a useful text for someone studying 17th/18th century English; even if to my mind it would be hard to hold modern Bibles up as examples of literary excellence. The Quran is thought by scholars to be a literary achievement in it's own right, and it's certainly the most notable literary work in Arabic; unlike the Bible there is at least in theory only one version of it as well.

    I don't think a religious text should be excluded from a language syllabus simply because it's a religious text, but I'd agree a religious text should only be included if it has value as a literary text. Or are we now to exclude Carravaggios, Rembrandts, Ruebens and Michelangelos compositions from Art studies, and Bachs, Mozarts and Vivaldis works from Music studies, simply because their subjects were religious?


  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,072 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cabaal


    Absolam wrote: »
    I don't think a religious text should be excluded from a language syllabus simply because it's a religious text,

    Its good to know that you are so supportive of allowing Scientology books as part of the language syllabus,


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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 41,702 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    Absolam wrote: »
    I don't think a religious text should be excluded from a language syllabus simply because it's a religious text
    two things smell rotten here; 1) the fact that it has been included, and 2) it's the only mandatory question.

    making it mandatory that anyone should have to study text of a religion which they have no faith in is the most impossibly idiotic thing to do. i'm genuinely wondering if the NCCA made their claim about literary merit without their own toes curling.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    Cabaal wrote: »
    Its good to know that you are so supportive of allowing Scientology books as part of the language syllabus,

    Are there Scientology books that you think have literary value? I mean To The Stars was an ok novel, but I don't think there's much in Scientology literature that anyone would consider worthy of a literary award. Do you?


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    Absolam wrote: »
    Are there Scientology books that you think have literary value? I mean To The Stars was an ok novel, but I don't think there's much in Scientology literature that anyone would consider worthy of a literary award. Do you?
    I don't think the Koran is going to be winning many literary awards either.

    There is cultural benefit perhaps in studying certain texts from a language history point of view. Hence why we do Shakespeare.

    Does the Koran fit this bill? Did it have a profound effect on the Arabic language?

    I don't know the answer to that.

    I would have a concern if the curriculum refers to the book as the "Holy" Koran or otherwise makes any deference to it. I would also be concerned if students were required to read it or part of it in advance of the exam.

    Putting in extracts of it though and asking students to answer questions on that extract to gauge their arabic comprehension, I wouldn't be too concerned about. It comes across as lazy by the exam-setters. Couldn't be arsed trying to find anything else, let's just stick the Koran in here, don't have to pay royalties or anything.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    two things smell rotten here; 1) the fact that it has been included, and 2) it's the only mandatory question.
    I think we can dismiss 1) as just general prejudice, but 2) in fairness is simply wrong. There are six mandatory questions in Part 1, five in Part 3, one in Part 4, and in Part 3 Section 1 has two questions on excerpts from the Quran which are mandatory, and Section 2 and 3 have four questions each; it is mandatory that students complete either Section 2 or 3. That sounds a bit less dodgy than 'it's the only mandatory question', doesn't it?
    making it mandatory that anyone should have to study text of a religion which they have no faith in is the most impossibly idiotic thing to do. i'm genuinely wondering if the NCCA made their claim about literary merit without their own toes curling.
    Removing religious material from education simply because it doesn't accord with your point of view, now that's an impossibly idiotic thing to do. If the NCCA were alone in claiming the Quran has literary merit it might be concerning. But it's apparent they're not; according to Middle East, A History it is 'the finest piece of literature in the arabic language', a sentiment wikipedia also attributes to 'The Qur'an' by Alan Jones, and 'The Koran Interpreted' by A. Arberry..


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,539 ✭✭✭✭ silverharp


    pasted from other thread, no point having a parallel discussion
    Absolam wrote: »
    Why? Whether the text has literary value (particularly in Arabic) has nothing at all to do with whether or not it is reasonably common to include religious texts in foreign language exams in western secondary schools.

    on the basis that most languages have interesting religious documents attached to their language, Im just asking why here but we don't see it elsewhere , It's a question the dept ought to answer. I'd suspect that it was done for religious advancement in the way that religious people find it difficult to not advance their cause at every turn. If an Arab speaker is shocked to find the Quran in their exam then it doesn't seem to be a taken for granted part of studying Arabic

    Absolam wrote: »
    We don't have any reason to think the exam does though, do we? No one has yet shown that the questions aren't entirely based on the literary content of the passages. In fact, given that Muslim students would have a theological understanding of the texts, they might be at a disadvantage in trying to discuss them from a purely literary standpoint. It very much depends on the questions, do you not think?

    The Quran is written in classical Arabic so someone who has been brought up with it will be more familiar with the style. Other foreign languages are presented as modern, nobody is required to understand 1300 year old French or Spanish documents to get through a modern language exam here.
    Originally this subject was setup for point bagging purposes for Libyan students in the Institute, as time goes on the mix has changed so I assume more kids have or will be born here. Personally I think it would be better to present the language in the Irish Syllabus as not being inextricably linked to a particular religion. There are obviously Christian Arabs and I'd guess Jewish Arab speakers that have learned the language without reference to the Quran, do they have to come to Ireland to have their first experience with the Quran?

    A belief in gender identity involves a level of faith as there is nothing tangible to prove its existence which, as something divorced from the physical body, is similar to the idea of a soul. - Colette Colfer



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    seamus wrote: »
    I don't think the Koran is going to be winning many literary awards either. There is cultural benefit perhaps in studying certain texts from a language history point of view. Hence why we do Shakespeare.
    I think it won't find much favour in many western book clubs, true. And I agree there are cultural benefits in stufying Shakespeare, but there are lingusitic benefits too, and not historical; the degree of understanding we can bring to bear on modern language is enormous. And Arabic has changed less over that time than English has; the construction of ancient Arabic (I'm told) is far more readily and widely recognisable to modern Arab speakers than the equivalent language used at the time in Britain would be.
    seamus wrote: »
    Does the Koran fit this bill? Did it have a profound effect on the Arabic language? I don't know the answer to that.
    Nor I;but I wouldn't be willing to dismiss it from consideration simply for being a religious text.
    seamus wrote: »
    I would have a concern if the curriculum refers to the book as the "Holy" Koran or otherwise makes any deference to it. I would also be concerned if students were required to read it or part of it in advance of the exam.
    I wouldn't; the Bible is commonly referred to as the Holy Bible and I feel it shows respect for those who value it to use the the title they prefer. I'd happily show similar respect for those who value the Quran in a simple matter of titles.
    seamus wrote: »
    Putting in extracts of it though and asking students to answer questions on that extract to gauge their arabic comprehension, I wouldn't be too concerned about. It comes across as lazy by the exam-setters. Couldn't be arsed trying to find anything else, let's just stick the Koran in here, don't have to pay royalties or anything.
    Maybe. There may not be a huge amount of decent literature in Arabic with a comprehension level suitable for Leaving Cert exams.. Peig once again floats horribly to mind.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    silverharp wrote: »
    on the basis that most languages have interesting religious documents attached to their language, Im just asking why here but we don't see it elsewhere , It's a question the dept ought to answer.
    I really don't see why it should? The Dept hasn't said anything at all about choosing the book on the basis that it's an interesting religious document attached to the language.
    silverharp wrote: »
    I'd suspect that it was done for religious advancement in the way that religious people find it difficult to not advance their cause at every turn. If an Arab speaker is shocked to find the Quran in their exam then it doesn't seem to be a taken for granted part of studying Arabic
    If you had any substantiation for that suspicion it might be interesting, but is there any basis for it other than the fact that the book is on the syllabus and you have a poor opinion of other people? The notion that an Arab speaker was shocked to find it in their exam is a bit slippery too; the students father said that he was distressed that it was there, not that he was shocked. Nor has anyone proposed that it should be taken for granted that the Quran is part of studying Arabic, have they?
    silverharp wrote: »
    The Quran is written in classical Arabic so someone who has been brought up with it will be more familiar with the style. Other foreign languages are presented as modern, nobody is required to understand 1300 year old French or Spanish documents to get through a modern language exam here.
    That pre-supposes that the variation between 'classical' and 'modern' Arabic are as substantial as they are in other languages that have evolved in rather different circumstances. I'm not so sure that this is the case.
    silverharp wrote: »
    Originally this subject was setup for point bagging purposes for Libyan students in the Institute, as time goes on the mix has changed so I assume more kids have or will be born here. Personally I think it would be better to present the language in the Irish Syllabus as not being inextricably linked to a particular religion. There are obviously Christian Arabs and I'd guess Jewish Arab speakers that have learned the language without reference to the Quran, do they have to come to Ireland to have their first experience with the Quran?
    That may be so; I'm sure you'll present your sources if you think it's worth supporting. But I don't think the notion that the language is inextricably linked to a particular religion has any value; no more than the notion that Art History is inextricably linked to a particular religion by including paintings with religious subjects. Nor am I inclined to be concerned that anyone's first experience with the Quran will be their Leaving Cert, whether they're native Arabic speakers, Christians, Jews, or atheists; I'm sure the Leaving Cert will be their first experience with many things.


  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,072 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cabaal


    Seems its important, but not important enough to be kept as compulsory and is likely to be made optional next year now
    John Hammond, deputy chief executive of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, said that the Koran was included because of its literary and linguistic value rather than its religious value.

    The NCCA said that it received a complaint from a Christian parent of a student, contesting the assumption that all Arabic students were Muslims and had a knowledge of the Koran.

    Eight separate sections of the Koran are identified as prescribed texts in the exam.

    “The council is willing to address the issue that it is compulsory and will look into making it optional for the next school year,” Mr Hammond said.

    http://www.broadsheet.ie/2016/04/20/inshallah-2/

    Religious texts should never be compulsory to people of other faiths or non-faiths, by all means make them compulsory for people of that specific faith but not others.


  • Registered Users Posts: 541 Bristolscale7


    Maybe they have to use the Koran because Macaulay was right?:rolleyes:


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    Cabaal wrote: »
    Seems its important, but not important enough to be kept as compulsory and is likely to be made optional next year now
    Religious texts should never be compulsory to people of other faiths or non-faiths, by all means make them compulsory for people of that specific faith but not others.
    I can't see any reason not to have them just as compulsory as any other non religious text, so long as the texts are equally relevant to the subject.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    Absolam wrote: »
    I wouldn't; the Bible is commonly referred to as the Holy Bible
    Only by those who consider it so.

    Adjectives are used to describe objects. The adjective describes either a factual property of the object, or a opinion-based property.

    The "large" book is a factual property
    The "great" book is a opinion-based property.

    Use of the word "Holy" before any text implies the author believes that to be the case, and should not be used as an adjective in a state-set exam. It is disrespectful of a believer to expect non-believers to use the word "Holy" before the name of a text.


  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,072 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cabaal


    Absolam wrote: »
    I can't see any reason not to have them just as compulsory as any other non religious text, so long as the texts are equally relevant to the subject.

    because they are religious and not everyone wants to read about religious teachings, its really that simple. Its perfectly reasonable to expect that those views should be respected.

    Your posts at this stage are just plane silly and you have to question why you seem to defend this nonsense at any cost to people of other faiths or none.


  • Registered Users Posts: 18,202 ✭✭✭✭ Akrasia


    I'm an atheist and I don't care if the Koran is prescribed or not. It's an important cultural document relevant to the Arab world in particular.

    As long as they're not teaching it as a religious text, or prohibiting criticism of it as a text. If any student received low marks or suffered any kind of disciplinary action because they criticised the content or style of the text It would be a completely different kettle of fish.

    It would be interesting to see how the essays are graded if someone didn't engage with the text in an intelligent way, but merely venerated it because of their religion

    "Critically assess the themes in the below text"
    "Allah, peace be upon him, is great, therefore everything in the text below is true and beyond human reproach'

    If an answer like that was given high marks out of 'respect' for their beliefs, it would be just as outrageous as someone getting low marks for raising valid but critical questions on the themes in the text.

    Methinks the actual texts in the course are extracts specially selected to be as non-controversial as possible Are there any bits in the Koran that talk about how wet water is? They're probably the texts that are included.


  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,072 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cabaal


    Akrasia wrote: »
    I'm an atheist and I don't care if the Koran is prescribed or not. It's an important cultural document relevant to the Arab world in particular.

    But the importance comes from the fact that it is seen as the word of god, this means the viewpoint of it is flawed as its wrong to doubt god.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,119 ✭✭✭✭ One eyed Jack


    Cabaal wrote: »
    But the importance comes from the fact that it is seen as the word of god, this means the viewpoint of it is flawed as its wrong to doubt god.


    It is seen as the word of God by adherents of the religion it's relevant to. Anyone else, they may discern their own relevance from it. That's the whole point of including literature like the Quran/Koran on the Arabic syllabus - because it's examining a student's understanding and comprehension of Arabic, not religion. Religion is a completely separate exam subject.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    seamus wrote: »
    Only by those who consider it so. Adjectives are used to describe objects. The adjective describes either a factual property of the object, or a opinion-based property. The "large" book is a factual property
    The "great" book is a opinion-based property. Use of the word "Holy" before any text implies the author believes that to be the case, and should not be used as an adjective in a state-set exam. It is disrespectful of a believer to expect non-believers to use the word "Holy" before the name of a text.
    In fairness, those who consider it so are in fact, fairly common.
    As to the adjective; perhaps it's not quite as you think?
    Whilst I'm not sure it actually is disrespectful of a believer to expect non-believers to use the word "Holy" before the name of a text, I'm fairly sure no such expectation was offered; the word is used and I said I feel it shows respect for those who value it to use the the title they prefer. Nobody said anyone was expected to use it.


  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 28,072 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cabaal


    It is seen as the word of God by adherents of the religion it's relevant to. Anyone else, they may discern their own relevance from it. That's the whole point of including literature like the Quran/Koran on the Arabic syllabus - because it's examining a student's understanding and comprehension of Arabic, not religion. Religion is a completely separate exam subject.

    So the bible should be included in English classes....you know...to test people's understanding and comprehension of English
    :rolleyes:

    Far more logical to use a none religious text especially for people of none-faith or other faiths,


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,913 ✭✭✭ Absolam


    Cabaal wrote: »
    because they are religious and not everyone wants to read about religious teachings, its really that simple. Its perfectly reasonable to expect that those views should be respected.
    I didn't want to read about Peig, that was really that simple too. Are you saying it was perfectly reasonable to expect that those views should be respected? Or is it just views against religion that should be respected?
    Cabaal wrote: »
    Your posts at this stage are just plane silly and you have to question why you seem to defend this nonsense at any cost to people of other faiths or none.
    It seems a recurring refrain I'm afraid; when you can't offer a point you offer some generic condemnation instead. Oh well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,248 ✭✭✭✭ BoJack Horseman


    Will killing a Kafir be part of the practicals?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 18,202 ✭✭✭✭ Akrasia


    Cabaal wrote: »
    But the importance comes from the fact that it is seen as the word of god, this means the viewpoint of it is flawed as its wrong to doubt god.

    The importance of it, that it is seen of the word of god, is why it's important to both believers and non believers. And this is why it's valid to teach it in an arabic class. But the way that it is taught should be as a piece of literature and the associated impact it has had on art and society.

    This is my line in the sand. I'm happy for it to be taught as long as it's treated the same as any other text on the curriculum

    I would be much happier teaching the Koran as literature in an arabic class, than teaching it in a religious education class, where there is more likely to be a rule barring 'insensitive criticism' or something similar.

    If the Arabic class is anything like English, then students are required to engage with the text and provide their own insights and interpretations on the themes of the text.

    Whether this happens in practise is another story, but if there are non Muslim students who are being discriminated against because of their honest and well thought out criticism of the text on their course, then they should definitely raise this as it is unacceptable.

    The marking scheme is published for the LC papers. Problem is they're in Arabic (who'd have thunk it)
    http://papers.theleavingcert.com/arabic/higher/2015-exam-paper.pdf
    http://papers.theleavingcert.com/arabic/higher/2015-marking-scheme.pdf
    Does anyone on here speak Arabic to be able to see if there are any glaring biases in how the paper is marked?


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