In 2016, a study carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) found that for literacy in the developed world, England ranks dead last. The same study also stated that for numeracy in the developed world, England ranks second-to-last. Even among graduates from English universities, the OECD study found, one in ten had literacy or numeracy skills that were classified as "low".
These results are astonishing, not to mention shaming. They reflect decades of misdirection in British education, including the misdirection of resources. Understandably, successive governments complain about a lack of resources. But all of those laments only serve to highlight the strangeness of Britain's latest priorities in funding education.
This past weekend it emerged that last year the British government funnelled £20 million to Palestinian schools. A review by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that these revenues go towards funding a curriculum which omits teaching peace, promotes the use of violence -- specifically jihad -- and encourages martyrdom. An analysis of the textbooks used in Palestinian schools funded by the UK government -- using UK taxpayers' money -- found that these textbooks, which come from the Palestinian Authority (PA), "exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence."
A science textbook intended for 12-year-olds, for example, claims to teach them Newton's second law of motion in the following way:
"During the first Palestinian uprising, Palestinian youths used slingshots to confront the soldiers of the Zionist Occupation and defend themselves from their treacherous bullets. What is the relationship between the elongation of the slingshot's rubber and the tensile strength affecting it?"
Another textbook, which is meant to be used for teaching arithmetic to 9-year-olds takes a highly local approach to the matter. Math lessons as provided by the PA -- courtesy of the UK government -- teach Palestinian children addition by asking them to calculate the number of "martyrs" in various Palestinian uprisings.
Elsewhere, the study found that social studies books included images of children in their school rooms with an empty desk fitted with a sign reading "martyr". Repeatedly the textbooks refer to the "Occupation", to "Zionist Occupation", "Zionists" and much more, all of which perpetuates the notion that Israelis are "invaders" and "oppressors". In other words, these textbooks are clearly and consistently intended to indoctrinate a new generation of Palestinian children to hatred of their neighbours. Any government genuinely interested in promoting peace would withdraw funding from any entity -- wherever in the world it was -- which taught violence as such a core part of its curriculum.
The British government, however, has long been strangely shameless when it comes to funding the Palestinian Authority. The British government, for instance, hides behind the claim that the PA's authorised textbooks for use in Palestinian schools have got better in recent years. In fact, this IMPACT-se report find precisely the opposite. Last year, the PA launched a much-vaunted new school curriculum for children in grades 5-11. Just last week the Minister of State for International Development, Alistair Burt, stated that "all of their [the PA's] schools in the West Bank are using the revised 2017 PA curriculum."
The IMPACT-se investigation revealed, however, that "radicalization is pervasive across this new curriculum." And not just pervasive, but pervasive "to a greater extent than before." The study found that in textbooks which pretend to be teaching "equal rights'", girls are encouraged to sacrifice their lives. A textbook aimed at 5th grade children (that is, children aged 10) teaches that "drinking the cup of bitterness with glory is much sweeter than a pleasant long life accompanied by humiliation." Another textbook urges that "Giving one's life, sacrifice, fight, jihad and struggle are the most important meanings of life."
In a statement, in response to the Sunday Times (UK), which broke the story, Alistair Burt, MP, and Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State at the Department for International Development, revealed that the UK taxpayer continues to support this radical curriculum of incitement. He admitted that the UK taxpayer funds the wages of 33,000 teachers in the West Bank, who use these curriculums. "UK-funded public servants and teachers... are therefore involved" he said. Instead of investigating these findings or announcing the immediate cessation of funding to the Palestinian Authority until such a time as it stops preaching incitement to another generation of Palestinian children, the UK's Department for International Development responded to the findings with a typical form of bureaucratese:
"Our support is helping around 25,000 young Palestinians go to school each year. The UK government strongly condemns all forms of violence and incitement to violence."
Well, the UK government clearly is not so opposed to "all forms of violence and incitement to violence" that it isn't happy to continue to use millions of pounds of UK taxpayer money to assist the PA in radicalising and inciting Palestinian children.
Pictured: A screenshot from the Sunday Times article exposing the British government's funding of a Palestinian curriculum which promotes the use of violence -- specifically jihad -- and encourages martyrdom.
The Department for International Development also announced that it was now "planning to conduct a thorough assessment of the Palestinian curriculum and evidence". It added that "if we find evidence of material which incites violence, we will take action." Evidence has been given to it in abundance, not just now but for years.
This is the true scandal for Britain: that while the UK government fails to pump the resources needed into helping young British children to grow up literate and numerate in Britain, it pumps millions of pounds into the Palestinian Authority to make sure that young Palestinian children think that a career of violence is a career worth pursuing. While failing to help British children grow up, the UK government helps Palestinian children to blow themselves up. It is a horrible legacy for any country, but for Britain, a shameful one.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."