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A DC Response on My Pearson-Saudi Arabia Post

December 29, 2014

On December 28, 2014, I wrote a post about the Pearson ingratiation and subsequent takeover of the Saudi Arabian education system.

I also cross-posted my piece on December 29, 2014, on my Huffington Post blog.

On December 29, 2014, I heard by email from The Gulf Institute Media, Institute of Gulf Affairs, in Washington, DC.

Someone from Gulf Institute Media sent me an opinion piece written by Gulf Institute Director Ali al-Ahmed and originally posted on November 26, 2010, in The Guardian.

In it, al-Ahmed maintains that the Saudi textbooks are conduits for chilling, destructive messages. Here is an excerpt:

The texts offer a chilling definition of murder as the intentional killing of “protected souls.” You won’t object very much until you know who meets the definition of a “protected soul”. Let us see if you are among those who are protected. The text explains that “protected souls” include free Muslims, free (non-slave) non-Muslim citizens of Muslim countries, and non-Muslims who travel to Muslim countries by invitation of Muslim hosts. The rest are not deserving of the status of a “protected soul”. If this is not license to kill the majority of the world’s population, I am not sure what is.

One of that most disturbing messages offered by the textbooks is that slavery is legitimate, and that young children can be married by their fathers to adults or other children. Child marriage is legal in Saudi Arabia and girls as young as four have been married in Saudi courts. To understand the mentality of these texts’ authors, you need to wonder why there is not a single photo of a living being throughout the entire 12 years of educational text that I have reviewed. The authors believe that photography is polytheistic, and they make that clear in several lessons dedicated to such teachings.

The email included no message, only the above article in full text.

I wholly agree that such messages need to be expunged from Saudi textbooks and replaced with those that foster value and respect for all human beings.


Pearson is a profit-driven international corporation. Pearson will exploit the Saudi education system in its vulnerable condition. When Pearson sees the Saudi “youth bulge,” Pearson sees dollar signs well into its education-system-devouring future.

Saudi Arabia could have contained Pearson by contracting with it– or any other textbook company– for a national textbook overhaul without handing its entire education system over to Pearson.

Frankly, given Pearson’s declared desire to embed itself in a nation’s education system, my best advice is to avoid Pearson all together.

Note that Pearson’s “plan” for Saudi Arabia mimics the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) experiment in the USA– an experiment that Pearson is literally banking on for profits.

Furthermore, Pearson’s profit drive has the company in a heap of trouble, including FBI investigation.

Pearson also has an established history of testing errors– errors that notably and negatively impact individual lives.

The sender of the Gulf Institute email included no explanation with the al-Ahmed article. However, it seems that the message is, “Well, a Pearson-directed national education system is better than what we have now.”

Such a message is not one of bright opportunity for the Saudi people. It is one of settling for the profit-driven parasite that bored into vulnerable Saudi skin, only to fester and propagate its own self-serving agenda at their unfortunate, long-term expense.

It is not too late for Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps King Abdullah will reconsider trusting his nation’s education system to a for-profit corporation.

Foxes don’t guard henhouses.


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

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  1. ira shor permalink

    Does the Gulf Media Institute oppose the close relationship of the American Govt. to the Saudi ruling family? Would it support a strategic break with a dynastic, anti-democratic regime very close to American foreign and oil policy?

    • Ira, I sent my mystery contact your questions. Will let you know if I receive a response.

    • Ira, here is the response I received from Gulf Institute to your questions as posted above:

      “We try to address the many problems in Saudi and the GCC countries ruled by absolute monarhcie4s. Education is one of the ways that these monarchies strengthen their hold on the population and to destroy their ability to push political change. The US has been the main protector of these monarchies instead of encouraging progress toward modern political environment.

      “Islam forbid monarchies, so yes as believers in democracy we believe monarchies should be dismantled in favor of a representative, democratic government that accepts all.”

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Potent messages. On target assessment of Pearson. Wonder who funds the Gulf Media Institute.

  3. Harlan Underhill permalink

    I wonder, Mercedes, why you and so many others who criticize Pearson take as your PREMISE that profit is a bad thing in and of itself. I don’t like the testing system that comes along with the CCSS(sic), but your condemnation of the entire capitalist system when you reject Pearson, when capitalism has made this country wealthy with comforts which you yourself enjoy and accept, plane travel among them. You would seem thereby to box yourself into some kind of socialism in which you think everything should be controlled by a government. Private enterprise pays your salary, indirectly. I just wonder why you seem so ready to bite the hand that feeds you with an astonishing ingratitude. Say it isn’t so.

    • amerigus permalink

      Harlan, profits are a great thing when tempered by democracy and human rights. So there is a line here, and I’m sure you’d say profits were a bad thing if a someone intentionally poisoned your family and charged you a premium for the antidote.

      Let’s look at the legal contours of this. The line for many in the US and world is when profits create perverse incentives that affect professionalism. Like is it good to say profits should drive dentists to drill teeth that don’t need fillings? It’s legal, but immoral. The USA is full of examples:

      Should we allow middlemen profiteers to charge us more for healthcare so they can profit? Check.
      Should we allow middlemen profiteers to charge us more for water so they can profit? Check.
      Should we allow middlemen profiteers to charge us more for education so they can profit? Check.
      Should we allow middlemen profiteers to charge us more for security so they can profit? Check.

      We already go way too far in the US. So now the question is whether Pearson is in contract to make textbooks that subjugate women. DO they?

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