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Cablegate: Mepi's "My Arabic Library" Gets a Green Light

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANAMA 000566

SIPDIS

NEA/PI-CBOURGEOIS; NEA/PPD-MQUINN AND APENDLETON;
NEA/ARN, NEA/ARP CKANESHIRO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC SCUL KMPI KPAO KDEM BA
SUBJECT: MEPI'S "MY ARABIC LIBRARY" GETS A GREEN LIGHT
IN BAHRAIN

REF: MANAMA 000399

1. (U) During a third meeting about MEPI's "My Arabic
Library" with senior Ministry of Education officials in
Bahrain (February 22, March 16, and April 17), the
Ministry of Education approved Bahrain's participation in
this project. The approval comes after post's efforts to
overcome Ministry concern and in some instances complete
rejection of the program by some Ministry staff (see
reftel).

2. (U) On April 17, PAO, APAO, Scholastic Inc. Vice
President Dr. Carol Sakoian and her regionally based
colleagues Michelle Alwan and Bassem Badran met with the
Minister of Education to present Ministry officials with
a list of titles and 12 sample translations. The
Minister welcomed the visit and approved MEPI's "My
Arabic Library." He cited the goal of promoting reading
among Bahraini youth and the contribution that the "My
Arabic Library" can make to this objective. "We need to
encourage our children to read and they need interesting
books, so I welcome this program. Anything that gets
children to put down their Playstation controls is a good
thing," he stated. He acknowledged the strong cooperative
relationship that exists between the Ministry and the
Embassy and affirmed that the "My Arabic Library"
initiative would further strengthen that relationship.

3. (U) The Ministry will pursue implementation of the
program with caution. Ministry officials made clear
their desire to inspect each translated book in detail to
ensure cultural sensitivity of the wording, concepts, and
pictures. The Scholastic delegation expressed concern to
Emboffs that this will delay getting the books into the
classroom. However, Ministry officials have insisted that
they will examine all the proofs in spite of the delays
that may be caused. The Scholastic delegation agreed to
send the remaining 28 translated proofs to the Ministry
of Education, as they become available, for approval.
(Comment: While visiting public schools, APAO and
Scholastic delegation noticed pictures of boys and girls
wearing shorts on classroom walls and in children's
books. APAO noted, and Scholastic VP concurred, that such
pictures would not be allowed in the translated books.
The Ministry will be exponentially more cautious with the
content of the Scholastic books than the content of their
own books and classrooms.)

4. (U) The Minister arranged meetings for the Scholastic
delegation with other Ministry officials to discuss
details and implementation of the program. The Assistant
Undersecretary for Curricula and Training, Director of
Curricula, and Director of Primary Schools saw proofs of
12 translated books. Their initial reactions were
positive. They expressed pleasure with the layout,
pictures, and topics of the books. They also discussed
plans for training teachers on using the new Arabic
library. A tentative training date was scheduled for mid-
October.

FORD

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