By: Professor Anjum James Paul
Three out of twelve letters of the Federal and Provincial governments of Pakistan are lying before me. I shall try to put some light only on these three letters. One can guess how the governments in Pakistan have been discriminating and playing fouls with the innocent minorities of Pakistan. Representatives of minorities in the assemblies are equally guilty who have never raised these issues of the minorities in true sense otherwise there may not be cry in the wilderness. Incidents of persecution that have taken place in Shanti Nagar, Sangla Hill, Bahminiwala, Korian and Gojra have reminded us the history of migration at the time of partition of India when there were looting and killings. But what has happened recently in Gojra is the worst one when the evil doers’ martyred six Christian men, women and children powerful explosive chemical and one with firing. This has all happened due to the due the discriminatory educational policies as there are topics on intolerance, disrespect of the minority religions of Pakistan and promoting a particular ideology of a religion. It is so sorry to say that even the topics on “national integrity” in the textbooks are biased and it seems very clearly as if they are the topics on “ Islamic integrity “. The textbooks are not based on values and the result is before us in the shape of extremism and terrorism. There is still time that the government must review her education policy 2009 which is very much biased and discriminatory against the minorities. We can simply say that this is an Islamic Education Policy as chapter 4 is on “Islamic Education”. NEP has failed to formulate a national education policy. PMTA has already brought reservations in the kind notice of the Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan on March, 06, 2009, Letter No.16-pmta/09 but no heed has been paid to the voice of the voiceless minorities.
PMTA received a letter from the Ministry of Education, GOP No.F 3-17/2007-IE on September 19, 2007 informing that the curriculum for Islmaiyat compulsory (for Muslim students) and Ethics for non-Muslim students have been approved and notified. It further says that there are no biases in future books.
In another reply to PMTA No.F 3-17/2008-IE on March 12, 2009, it was said that there are general guidelines for textbook writers in National Curriculum documents of Ethics III-XII 2007 (page 22-23), Pakistan Studies IX-X 2006 (page 19-21), History VI-VIII 2006(page 39-41) and Social Studies IV-V 2007 (page 56) etc, regarding adoption of unbiased and non-controversial material for minorities, sects and gender etc.
It further says, “So far as the role of minorities in the creation of Pakistan is concerned, it is included in National Curriculum of Pakistan Studies (IX-X) 2006 (page 13) and History (VI-VIII) 2006 (pages 29-30) for example.
It further says, “I am further directed to inform you that representatives of minorities were taken on the Curriculum Development Committee for Ethics (III-XII). A list of curriculum developers (Ethics III-XII 2007) is enclosed.
In another letter No. SO(S-VII) 1-9/2007, dated December 17, 2008 by the government of the Punjab, School Education Department, there are comments of Director (C.W), Punjab Textbook Board, Lahore in which it is said that the national Ethics Curricula 2006 for grades III-XII for non-Muslim students will be implemented under a phased programme.
Year 2010-11 Classes I, VI, IX and XI
Year 2011-12 Classes II, VII, X and XII
Year 2012-13 Classes V & VIII
PMTA has strong reservation using the word ‘non-Muslim’ as this is the openly violation of the Constitution of Pakistan, Article 36 where word ‘minorities’ has been used. We request the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take serious notice of this word and order all the institutions of the Federal and Provincial governments to use the word ‘minorities’ where necessary. This is a constitutional matter.
Punjab Textbook Board must keep in mind that curriculum has been developed in the subject of Ethics from grade III-XII but unfortunately phased programme to write books for class III and IV has not been mentioned while books for class I and II will not be prepared as curricula has not been developed for these classes. Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) conducts examination for class V and VIII while Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education for class IX-XII. There is utmost need that textbooks must be written for these classes on prior basis. Syllabus of Ethics is not mentioned in the educational calendar which is discrimination with the students of minorities. Takveen Anjum of class V was one of the oppressed students to whom syllabus was not provided even though she requested the Ministry of Education and the Chief Minister of Punjab in the examination 2009. On failure of receiving syllabus, she protested and remained absent in the said paper but PEC awarded her 61 marks in the subject of Islamiyat. Later on she protested that why marks have been awarded to her though she was absent.
NEP 2009 is a component of contradictions in general and especially for minorities. PMTA wrote a letter to the the then President of Pakistan, No. pmta/115/6,dated May 02, 2006, on the subject “Representation of educationists from the religious minorities in the curriculum committee constituted to revise syllabus 2006” and copies were mailed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Federal Minister of Education, Government of Pakistan, State Minister of Minorities Affairs, Government of Pakistan, Federal Secretary of Education, Government of Pakistan and Members of the Parliament (Minorities) of Pakistan. Islamabad. We were really happy that representatives were taken on though only for the subject of Ethics to develop curricula but very much disappointed when I was called on by Mr. Chiragh Din Arif, Director (Curriculum Wing) Punjab Textbook Board Lahore on November 13, 2008. I came to know that there were Muslims who were writing on the topics in the subject of Ethics. I requested the honourable Director and presented reservations of the minorities that these are very sensitive books and students of minorities have to study them. So, these textbooks must be written by the educationists and experts of minorities. If textbooks were not to be written by the minorities’ educationists then why were they taken on in the Curriculum Development Committee for Ethics? Can a Muslim writer dare to write the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Christian faith? No, certainly not. How can he go against the teachings of his religion regarding such topics? Pakistani textbooks are mostly written with a biased, fundamentalist, discriminatory and sentimental approach against the religions and traditions of minorities. How can we blame other nations like India that there are biases in the textbooks when there is the worst situation in Pakistani textbooks?
It is mentioned in the national document of guidelines for textbooks writers that the material must be unbiased and non-controversial. But it is sorry to say that there is nothing mentioned about the minorities, sects and gender etc. The Ministry of Education must direct special guidelines in this regard. But it is impossible in the presence of biased topics like Two Nation Theory and Objectives Resolution which are biased against the minorities. There is open violation of article 22 (1) of the Constitution which says. “No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own”. Is this not the violation of the Constitution that students of minorities are forcibly taught a theology of a particular religion which is different to their belief? PMTA published a White Paper on Education in Pakistan In September 2007 .This is a document to debate religious bias, general standard of textbooks and education policies in Pakistan. There is research on 52 textbooks in the subjects of Civics, English, Ethics, Islamic Studies, Pakistan Studies, Social Studies and Urdu from grade I-XII. Only in the subject of Urdu language from class I-XII, 235 chapters and poems out of 409 consist of Islamic teachings through various means in 12 textbooks. So the ratio of preaching Islam by various means through Islamic teachings, personalities, poetry and terms is 57.45%. Not only this but these textbooks are filled with the bias against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroasters and their civilizations as well. Minorities’ students will continue suffering as they will not only study the same particular ideology in the subject of Ethics but humanities and science subjects as well in future. They will be taught Arabic too in the textbooks of Urdu and English as well. Two Nation Theory and Objectives Resolution are much biased against the minorities of Pakistan. It is utmost need to abolish the topics of hatred from the textbooks as they have been totally failed to promote national unity and integrity. I would like to draw your attention on the following articles of the constitution.
Article 2 of the Constitution describes “Islam is the state religion.”
Article 31 and 40 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 are in chapter 2. Title of this chapter is “Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy” . Again Pakistani education policy has been formulated keeping in mind this chapter biased chapter of the Constitution.
Article 31. Islamic way of life
(1) Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
(2) The state shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan, :
(a) to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language and to secure correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Quran;
(b) to promote unity and the observance of the Islamic moral standards; and
(c) to secure the proper organisation of zakat, [ushr,] auqaf and mosques”
Article .40. Strengthening bonds with Muslim world and promoting international peace.
The State shall endeavour to preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic unity, support the common interests of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, promote international peace and security, foster goodwill and friendly relations among all nations and encourage the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.
There is discrimination with the students of minorities as Muslim students who learn the holy Quran by heart have many privileges for example, they can take the class VIII examination bypassing class VI and VII. They get 20 extra discriminatory marks if they want to get admission in higher classes. They have full tuition fees concession if they get admission in any public educational institution. On the other hand students of minorities are deprived of such privileges and are failed to continue their studies due to the 20 extra discriminatory marks which are a great hindrance to continue their study for higher level.
Due to the Principles of Policy of the Constitution there is discrimination with the students of minorities in the textbooks and educational institutions. They are forced to attend the assembly where ideology of a particular faith is promoted. Sense of segregation is developed in them. Their role in the creation and construction of Pakistan is not admitted in the textbooks which creates distance between them and the students of majority faith. This is openly the violation of Article 25 (1) which describes, “.All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.”
Ministry of Education, government of the Punjab issued a discriminatory order about the minorities’ educator who are to be recruited to attend one month compulsory training in the subjects of Science, Mathematics, English, Urdu, Computer, PT and Qirat (recitation of the holy Quran). As soon as PMTA came to know, a letter was written to the education ministry No.29-pmta/09, dated July 10, 2009 on the subject, “Qirat and Minorities’ educators.” Same one published in the national press. Ms. Zubeida Mustafa in her column “Gojra and education” drew the attention on this issue as well. PMTA received a letter by the Ministry of Education Notification No. SO (TRG) 2-24/2008 on August 12, 2009, exempting the minorities’ educators to get training in the subject of Qirat.
We have to bring Pakistan out of the dangers of terrorism and extremism. It is the education which can only bring changes in the mindsets of the innocent students of our country. Education Policy is the key to make Pakistan a paradise or hell. Formers dictators have been playing with department education too for the fulfillment of their nefarious designs. We as Pakistanis have to play our role in a constructive way. Teachings of the father of the nation must be adopted as blue print which he presented before the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 burying the Two Nation Theory after gaining a nation called Pakistani. He said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State………Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.