In a meeting held by the Egyptian parliament's defence and national security committee this week, MP Freddy El-Baiadi said the Ministry of Education has a lot of work to do to rid school books and lessons from extremist and radical thought.
"Education is a national security issue, and so the Ministry of Education should take greater steps to get rid of school books that spread extremist and radical thoughts," said El-Baiadi, arguing that "when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power in Egypt (2012-2013), it tried its best to spread its extremist ideology among schools and teachers."
"This Brotherhood ideology still exists and it is now up to the Ministry of Education to move to rid school books from this extremist ideology," said El-Baiadi.
El-Baiadi also said that history books in Egypt's in schools still ignore the country’s Coptic era.
"This is a very regrettable example of religious intolerance and bias, as this era includes a lot of Coptic characters and figures who contributed a lot to Egypt's history and national life," said El-Baiadi.
El-Baiadi also argued that reform of religious discourse should begin in schools.
"In this respect, I propose that Muslim and Christian students attend lessons that teach the values of religious tolerance, nationhood and coexistence," said El-Baiadi.
He also proposed that "religious texts" be removed from certain school subjects, particularly Arabic, history and geography.
"These are non-religious subjects and so they should not include any religious texts," said El-Baiadi, arguing that "some unqualified teachers interpret these religious texts in a way that leads to spreading extremist thoughts."
In response, Deputy Minister of Education Reda Hegazi said he welcomes El-Baiadi's proposals, particularly the one related to teaching the values of religious tolerance, nationhood and coexistence in common school lessons.
"It is a very good proposal that Muslim and Christian students attend lessons that teach common values on national unity, tolerance and religious coexistence," said Hegazi.
Hegazi revealed that the Ministry of Education's directives are that religious texts be confined to religion books only.
"I also want to reveal that there will be one religion book in all school grades that will focus on religious tolerance and that students will have exams on this book, and that the marks they get will be added to the total," said Hegazi.
Head of parliament's defence and national security Kamal Amer said the committee's plans in the coming period focus on discussing the strategies of the ministries of education, higher education, culture and religious endowments in fighting religious extremism and radicalism.
"We will hold meetings with senior officials in these ministries until we forge a national strategy that could help the state in its efforts to reform religious discourse, spread tolerance and fight extremism," said Amer.