ASIA / PAKISTAN – Don’t teach hatred against minorities in school: civil society’s appeal to the government

ASIA / PAKISTAN – Don’t teach hatred against minorities in school: civil society’s appeal to the government

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – “For our country, we want a curriculum that is in line with international standards, which focuses on moral and ethical values. The government should not incorporate religious content into compulsory subjects such as Urdu and English. Article 22 of the Constitution of Pakistan states that “no person attending an educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction or participate in any religious ceremony if it relates to a religion other than their own.” This article is respected as it promises protection for religious minorities in the learning environment “: The Catholic leader Peter Jacob, director of the Center for Social Justice (CSJ), an organization active in promoting human rights in Pakistan, told Agenzia Fides.
In light of a conference organized jointly by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, Jacob notes, “We are asking for a commission on education reform to be set up to look into past education policies. No one has ever analyzed the content of our school books and the side effects that arise in our society for years “.” It is necessary to strengthen inclusiveness in education – observes the leader – especially with regard to religious minorities and marginalized groups. Teaching Islamic content in compulsory subjects is unfair, as even students from religious minorities are thus forced to study and take exams in these subjects”.
CSJ appreciates the Sindh provincial government that has changed the school curriculum taking into account the ethnic and religious diversity that exists in the province. The NCJP also analyzes the Common National Curriculum adopted in Pakistani schools to make relevant suggestions.
Christian and Muslim experts share the call to adopt and follow and implement a “Unique National Curriculum” for education that conforms to international standards.
Among the scholars, Riaz Shaikh, a Muslim, dean of the Department of Social Sciences at the “Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology” in Islamabad, agrees, noting “discrimination and gender issues in the national curriculum”, which then, he recalls, ” it is neither followed nor implemented in the madrasas, the Islamic seminaries”.
Tauseef Ahmed Khan, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, notes with concern that “our curriculum contains content that sows hatred towards minority groups and this is becoming a source of hatred in the hearts of students. for the first time as early as 2004. We have need for our students to absorb content that speaks of peace, harmony and justice”.
Kashif Aslam, NCJP program coordinator, told Agenzia Fides: “We have done a great job over the last ten years to remove hate material from textbooks. We don’t want it to go to waste. We have to remove content that gives rise to fundamentalism and also to violence”.
Members of human rights and civil society groups hope that “the government will make a sincere effort to save education from any degeneration” and that the education system is inclusive and respects equal opportunities so that all children can receive a high-quality education.
(AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides 5/8/2022)


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