When Saudi Arabia's public education system-issued textbooks are in the news, it's usually because impressionable young readers are learning how to cut off a thief's hands and feet under Sharia law or that homosexuals should be "put to death."
But now, some good news: for the first time ever, the country is including photos of women in its textbooks, therefore teaching children that ladies can do stuff, too.
Pictures of women had been banned in all school books since the country's state-run education system began in 1926 — neither girls' nor boys' schools were allowed to show photos of real women. (Drawings were cool, as occasionally we must begrudgingly accept that women walk among us and represent them accordingly.)
According to Al Arabiya, an English book for third-year high schoolers "contains a picture of a nurse wearing a headscarf and a medical mask while preparing an injection." Even better, students were prompted to "discuss the changes in the percentage of men and women in traditional occupations."
There's also a photo of a "girl standing in a lab." (Unclear what she's doing; hopefully it doesn't involve cutting off the body parts of thieves.) Apparently she wasn't veiled in the original photo, so an additional part was added in the book to cover her face.
The new books are part of a tentative experiment which, according to Al Arabiya, goes beyond textbooks: it's indicative of "a general focus on girls and their educational role in the professional world." The government will decide whether the books should be fully circulated at the end of the academic year.
Image via Rahhal/Shutterstock.