Yes, in the global scheme of things, this is small. But in the context of Saudi Arabia, it’s pretty big. For the first time ever, Saudi school books will be permitted to include photographs of women. That 50% of the population was deemed un-showable to students is pretty remarkable in itself. It’s to be applauded — even while the necessity is being derided — that the Saudi government is acknowledging in this small way that women are part of society.
For the first time in the public education system in Saudi Arabia, photos of women have been added to English high school books, the al-Hayat newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Photos of women had been banned in all school books in both girls’ and boys’ schools since the inception of Saudi state education in 1926.
The current academic year, however, saw the circulation of the first series of books that include women’s pictures. The new copies are still in the experimental phase, however, and the final authorization for the books to be in full circulation is set to take place at the end of the academic year.
Although the women appearing in photos in the books are veiled, the step is still regarded as a major change since only drawings of women were permitted in school books before.