Thursday, July 19, 2012

“Reservations on Education Policy” letter published in the Daily Frontier Post on March 12, 2009.

Prof Anjum James Paul Faisalabad

Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association has strong reservations on the draft of the National Education Policy 2009 as this Policy violates article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan which describes" All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law." PMTA feels sorry to say that there is contradiction in the policy and voice of the minorities and moderate Pakistanis has been totally ignored. This policy cannot work properly as there is contradiction in the various articles of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. PMTA requests the concerned corners that the educational policy must be shaped keeping in mind the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he presented in the First Educational Conference held in Karachi in November 1947,Article 20, 22 and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, Article 1 and 26 of UHDR, Article 18, 26 and 27 of ICCPR , Article 2 and 14 of ICRC and the UNESCO recommendations. The PMTA would like to draw your kind attention on some the paragraphs of this policy. 1. 20 It is common knowledge, as well as a proven outcome of many studies that discrimination exists in the education system in various forms. 2. 45 Traditions, culture and faith all reflect upon the education system while at the same time get affected by it. 3. 47. Cultural values of the majority of Pakistanis are derived from Islam. An education system reflects and strengthens social, cultural and moral values. Pakistan's educational interventions have to be based on the core values of faith. 4. 48. The National Education Policy recognizes the importance of Islamic values and adheres to the agreed principles in this regard. All policy interventions shall fall within the parameters identified in the Principles of Policy as laid down in Articles 29, 30, 33, 36, 37 and 40 of Constitution of Pakistan 1973. These include the need for Muslim children to be provided instructions in Islamiyat to enable them to develop themselves as good Muslims. Similarly, minorities should be provided with facilities to get education of their own religion 5. 82 There is also an unresolved and continuing debate on how and what religious and moral values be taught through the educational system and how to accommodate non-Muslim minorities. 6. 89 The Planning Commission's 'Vision 2030' also argues for such change of the mindset, which commits to a new set of societal goals. The Ministry of Education has adopted following vision: "Education is a categorical imperative for individual, social and national development that should enable all individuals to reach their maximum human potential. The system should produce responsible, enlightened citizens to integrate Pakistan in the global framework of human centered economic development." 7. The plans shall also promote equity in education for eliminating social exclusion and promoting national cohesion. Greater opportunities shall be provided to marginalised groups of society, particularly girls. (P 20 Policy Actions No.3) 8. Curriculum shall emphasize the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of Pakistan, so that each individual shall develop within himself and the society at large, a civic culture strong enough to withstand any extra constitutional interference which threatens those rights. (P 39 Policy Actions No.3) PMTA is unable to understand why the policy makers have ignored article 25 (1) which is in the chapter of the Fundamental Rights and Article 31(2) that contradicts Article 25(1) which is as under that describes "The state shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan: 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?" Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan has failed to facilitate the minorities as they have been ignored to get education of their own religions. The textbooks in the subject of Ethics from grade I-XII are being written by the biased Muslim writers violating the teachings of the minority religions of Pakistan. This contradicts the policy action 3 on page 39 of the draft. PMTA has already brought into the kind notice of the Ministry of Education and the esteemed offices of the government of Pakistan but no attention has been paid which is a clear indication of discrimination against minorities. According to para 82 non-Muslim minorities have not been accommodated. The same way para 47 and 48 totally goes in favour of the majority religion of Pakistan that contradicts the article 25(1). Article 38 (d) speaks of instilling moral values and of providing education to all citizens irrespective of gender, caste, creed, or race but it has been observed that the moral values of a particular religion are promoted through the textbooks and educational institutions. PMTA published a White Paper on education in Pakistan in 2007. Copies of the White Paper were mailed to the Federal Ministry of Education and the esteemed offices. This is a document to debate religious bias, general standard of textbooks and educational policies of Pakistan. It is sorry to say that there is not much difference in this education policy which is not a healthy sign. There must be removal of all sorts of bias against any religion, civilization or culture from Pakistani textbooks and educational institutions.

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