By Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan
Special to ASSIST News Service
Pakistan National Education Policy 2009 condemned
PMTA terms Education Policy 2009 as ‘Islamic Education Policy’
Professor Anjum James Paul, the Chairman of Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association (PMTA), has termed Pakistan’s National Education Policy 2009 as “Islamic Education Policy.”
“In the presence of chapter four of the Education Policy 2009 on ‘Islamic Education,’ how can one justify that this is not a biased and discriminatory education policy that gives priority to the teachings of a single majority religion while Pakistan is a multi-religious country,” said the professor.
He said that syllabi are not based on democratic values and are discriminatory to non-Muslims.
Responding to a question he said the non-Muslim students have been given an option to study the subject of Ethics from Grade 3 to Grade 12.
Earlier, the subject of Islamiyat (Islamic Studies) was taught in all Pakistani schools. It was compulsory for all children up to grade 8 and from grade 9 Non-Muslim students could opt out by choosing Civics.
Professor Anjum alleged that the text books of Ethics have been written by Muslim authors from an Islamic perspective.
Elaborating on it he said that Ethics text book for class 3 does not name as to who was the eldest son of Abraham. “It merely states the eldest son of Abraham. This will definitely create confusion in the young non-Muslim students because according to Islam it is Ishmael whereas according to Christian teachings it is Isaac,” he stated.
The Ethics text book for Class 5, he said, has a chapter on Semitic Religions including Judaism and Christianity. How could a Muslim writer write on Christianity and Judaism?, he questioned.
Under the heading of “Religious Festivals” in the Ethics text book for Class 6 he said students are supposed to read about Eid-ul-Fitar (Muslim religious festival that follows Muslim holy month of Ramadan).
The professor pointed out that the students of Ethics are also supposed to read about Islam and prominent Muslim personalities like Imam Ghazali.
He alleged that the teachers, most of whom are Muslims, recognize the candidate to be a non-Muslim and hence they mark them down in the Ethics examination.
Anjum alleged that depiction of Christianity at higher-level classes is negative. He said that it was important that teachers and educational materials promote correct attitudes in young minds such as inter-religious harmony, tolerance, sensitivity to others, empathy and avoidance of prejudice and bias.
He went on to say that there are 57.47% teachings of Islam only in the subject of Urdu language which is a compulsory subject from grade I-XII.
Professor Anjum alleged that the Ministry of Education, government of Pakistan is “playing the role of a cleric as it preaches Islam to all the students whether one is Muslim or not”.
“PMTA declares this education policy ‘Islamic Education Policy’ as chapter four of this policy is on ‘Islamic Education,’” said Anjum.
This education policy, he alleged, violates article 22 (1) of the Constitution which describes “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.”
He added that the policy is in contravention of article 25 (1) of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan 1 which describes “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.”
The professor further confided to ANS that the policy flouts Article 1 and 26 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18, 26 and 27 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 2 and 14 of International Committee of Red Cross and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s recommendations.
Professor Anjum said he also wrote a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani to apprise him of minorities’ reservation on the Education Policy.
Pakistan should withdraw from these covenants and declarations if it cannot ensure minorities' human rights, he demanded.