Education for connecting Omani students with other cultures in the world

The role of social studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Oman is a multicultural society in terms of both ethnicity and religion. Communities vary in terms of cultural heritage, language, dress and religious or sectarian affiliation. The majority of people are Arab; other members of society belong to one of three main ethnic groups: the Hyderabadi, the Baluchis or the Zanzibari (Arabs of Omani descent who lived in Zanzibar for many years and returned to Oman after 1970). Arabic is considered the official language in Oman; however, several other languages such as English, Urdu, Baluchi and Swahili are also spoken. Islam is the state religion of the sultanate, with the majority of people being Ibadhi while the remaining population is divided between the Sunni and the Shi’a denominations. This cultural and religious diversity needs to be reflected in the school curriculum, especially in Social Studies education, which is regarded as the subject closest to intercultural education in terms of concepts, skills and values. This paper is based on a literature review exploring current practices regarding intercultural education in Omani schools. Specifically, the study attempts to identify which practices are implemented by Omani schools to help Omani students develop positive attitudes towards differences among cultures. The author considers both curricular and extra-curricular elements of intercultural education. He then turns to Social Studies textbooks used in Omani schools, investigating unit contents. His conclusion is that while intercultural education is to some extent already incorporated in the Omani education system, current practices are far from sufficient. There is still a great need to improve teacher training and open up the Social Studies curriculum considerably to include all the students’ cultures and faiths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Education
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 7 2016

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intercultural education
social studies
Oman
school
education
student
Religion
Sunni
curriculum
official language
denomination
language
cultural heritage
multicultural society
teacher training
Islam
education system
faith
Arab
textbook

Keywords

  • Cultural diversity
  • Intercultural education
  • Oman
  • Social studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

Cite this

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title = "Education for connecting Omani students with other cultures in the world: The role of social studies",
abstract = "Oman is a multicultural society in terms of both ethnicity and religion. Communities vary in terms of cultural heritage, language, dress and religious or sectarian affiliation. The majority of people are Arab; other members of society belong to one of three main ethnic groups: the Hyderabadi, the Baluchis or the Zanzibari (Arabs of Omani descent who lived in Zanzibar for many years and returned to Oman after 1970). Arabic is considered the official language in Oman; however, several other languages such as English, Urdu, Baluchi and Swahili are also spoken. Islam is the state religion of the sultanate, with the majority of people being Ibadhi while the remaining population is divided between the Sunni and the Shi’a denominations. This cultural and religious diversity needs to be reflected in the school curriculum, especially in Social Studies education, which is regarded as the subject closest to intercultural education in terms of concepts, skills and values. This paper is based on a literature review exploring current practices regarding intercultural education in Omani schools. Specifically, the study attempts to identify which practices are implemented by Omani schools to help Omani students develop positive attitudes towards differences among cultures. The author considers both curricular and extra-curricular elements of intercultural education. He then turns to Social Studies textbooks used in Omani schools, investigating unit contents. His conclusion is that while intercultural education is to some extent already incorporated in the Omani education system, current practices are far from sufficient. There is still a great need to improve teacher training and open up the Social Studies curriculum considerably to include all the students’ cultures and faiths.",
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