Dawn News

Hate-filled textbooks

IN today’s Pakistan, plagued as it is by extremism and inter-religious, ethnic- and sectarian-based tension, there are plenty of occasions to justifiably accuse the state of doing little to stem the black tide threatening to engulf the country. On the one hand, instances are readily available where elements from within the state and its machinery have actively or through shameful passivity supported those that seek to turn Pakistan into a society of narrow-minded ideologues. On the other, examples abound of the state not having the will even to make improvements in sectors under its control. Nowhere is this more visible than in the textbooks being used in large parts of the country. From the findings of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, which undertook a content analysis of the books for primary and secondary schools published by the Punjab and Sindh textbook boards, it would seem that referring to the curricula as ‘hate-filled’ is no overstatement. The report Education or Fanning Hate finds that these books contain material that would create and entrench in students’ minds prejudice against religious minorities, both within Pakistan’s borders and elsewhere, distort history and foment the conspiratorial mindset that is at least part of the reason why this country has come to the current pass. What’s worse, while textbooks have been revised over the past three decades, it seems that hate content has increased manifold over time.

In other words, whatever efforts Pakistan may make to curb extremism in society in general, they are destined to be eroded by school curricula that send poisoned minds out into the world. Must it remain this way, given that reviewing and cleaning up textbooks is technically amongst the easiest of changes to achieve? There is no shortage of experts who can provide sound advice in this regard, and plenty of examples that can be followed. Purging school curricula of hate material would not be a politically divisive matter. All that is required is a state with the will to do what needs to be done. And yet, such a place is Pakistan that it remains a moot point whether that will can ever be mustered up.

Comments (21) Closed

U Gupta
Sep 04, 2012 08:17am
Hate will always be there, if people call themselves Muslims and do not read Quran. Maulvis may ask people to memorize quran instead of making people understand the real meaning. Basic problems lies with following Wahabi type of Islam not Islam of love and compassion.
ramaya balachandran
Sep 04, 2012 06:07pm
which is more painful, cancer or hate education. cancer kills an individual.malicious hate education kills a society for generation.you manufacture brain washed youth who will be laughed, heckled in international competitive environment.why are you stabbing your future. wake up
Sep 04, 2012 09:19am
Absolutely correct Gerry. I am also witness to this hatred! I have first hand experience of such hatred from my Muslim friends and colleagues for not being a Muslim.
Sep 04, 2012 04:23pm
Then why are Muslim lands are still occupied? Palestine? Kasmir? Hederabad? or benig attacked every ten years for one reason or another? Iran being Next! Do you have a problem if a religion, community or a country teaches its children to defend its self agains the invaders, internal or external? Who wants to fight if their basic rights and liberties are not usurped by an invader (with guns or pens)?
Iftikhar Husain
Sep 04, 2012 10:51am
The whole education system has to be revised to promote better understanding of the society and make a tolerable society.
Sep 04, 2012 03:47am
`" All that is required is a state with the will to do what needs to be done." +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ And what gives one the optimism that that would actually happen if it didnt for six decades?
Sep 04, 2012 12:04pm
All that needs is to put religion out of State education and teach the masses that all human beings are equal. Tell to all students that only hard work, creativity, innovation and compassion helps them to build great Country.
jalaluddin S. Hussain
Sep 04, 2012 04:12am
Shameful! Hateful text books should gradually be eliminated. The newly-elected government, after the general election, must do this through the recommendations of an Education Commission.
Vinod Kumar
Sep 04, 2012 11:44am
Neither the article nor the editorial talks about or explains why the school text books are full of hatred of others. It is mentioned is that books are full of extremist views. Extremist views of whom? Islamic extremists -- I don't know if there are any other extremists. Islam is claimed to be a peaceful and tolerant faith. Then books prepared or influenced by extremist Islamic views should be of extremely peaceful and.tolerant nature. Does not logic tell you that? So, I wonder where is the problem?
Sep 04, 2012 05:57am
What also needs to be done is teacher training and teacher sensitization to this issue. Often teachers who have internalized the 'hate message' continue spewing such messages well after the curriculum has changed.
Sep 04, 2012 09:39am
I completely agree with both of you!
Sep 04, 2012 08:49am
Textbooks are prepared by Teachers and Educationists, not Mullahs. In any society they represent hope for a nation and its future. The increase in hate and bigotry against other religious faiths and countries shows that ideological contamination has reached where it never should. The results of this can be seen by what is happening in the country today. For every atrocity committed by the citizen or the State finger is pointed at an imaginary foreign force thereby escaping responsibility and reinforcing the cycle of hate and violence. Media is now waking up but cannot escape its responsibility because it has been a tool in the propagation of falsehood for decades.
Azam Chowdhry
Sep 04, 2012 11:29am
Pakistan needs to monitor uneducated misguided Mullahs and stop them from spreading hate. They need to look at their text books to make sure that they do not teach terrorism and ill feelings against other human beings with different faith. If Pakistan fails to do that, it deserves to be isolated from the world, it deserves the punishment from Almighty Allah (SWT), and it deserves not to have any respect in any part of the world and denied visa to any country.
M. Asghar
Sep 04, 2012 07:38am
It is so evident that education at all levels represents the mental health for a nation. If it is messed up and polluted by irrationality any sort the whole state structure becomes rickty and unmanageable as there are signs of it all over the country. Of course, one has to find out as to what are the reasons of this disfunctionment.
Agha Ata
Sep 04, 2012 01:23pm
All such books should have been confiscated and burnt down day before yesterday when the article, exposing it, appeared for the first time. But no action was taken even yesterday. Are they going to do anything today? What have they been waiting for, for 2 days--more honestly--for 4 decades? Every minute the poison is spreading. This is a matter of life and death and of extreme urgency. I hope they deal with the emergency right now!
Hadi Sakey
Sep 04, 2012 11:04am
Agree that text books are prepared by teachers and educationists but Mullahs influence started from Ziaul Haq days. Zia ul Haq wanted the text books to contain those matters which could change the mindset of the students at Primary, Middle and Secondary levels. The students from the days of Ziaul Haq crammed Islamiat, Pakistan Studies and History and they believe the text book contains authentic matters.
Sep 04, 2012 12:55pm
The outdates syllabus and replete with feeling of haterd has produced a dead psyche in minds of youth. Our syllabi are against the teachings of Islam. Agreed at this point that it is time to moot this situation and revising syllabus of hater and animosity. Rather re-publishing same dead thoughts, education ministry in general and government in particular should design a syllabi having acquintance with teaching of Islam and humanity.
Gerry D'Cunha
Sep 04, 2012 09:03am
Compair islam with other major religions of the world - islam followers are full of hatred towards other faith, caste and religion. I have experienced in pakistan and UK.
Sep 04, 2012 02:20pm
Why do our text books paint a marauder like Mahmud of Ghazni as some sort of a hero? That he repeatedly attacked India destroying its towns and temples is an abomination worthy of contempt by any decent person. This simple reality is lost on these text book writers. No wonder we are a morally sick nation. Lets rewrite our books and also, for Gods sake, stop naming our missiles after these savages from Afghanistan. Irony of ironies! They were attacking us, we were Hindustan back then.
Sep 05, 2012 01:33am
As a student in the 70s, I always knew the importance of science, math, english and urdu. It did not take me long to recognize how useless studying history was. And what is worse, the history I studied was indeed warped. Pakistan needs to produce creative scientists and engineers. But it seems we are producing a lot more ratta maro historians who are only good for conjouring conspiracies and are unable to contribute towards the betterment of the country. It is really sad.
Hadi Sakey
Sep 05, 2012 01:53am
Please do not distort history, particularly Islamic history. Pakistani Maulvis have scant respect for history so they concoct stories like Amir Liaqat Hussain. How unfortunate it is that a Televangelist like Amir is promoted by GEO.