PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has decided in principle to remove ‘objectionable material’ from the textbooks of local primary schools to please the key partner of the ruling coalition, Jamaat-i-Islami.
A senior official of the education department told Dawn on Friday that JI leaders had voiced reservations about the printing of pictures of minor girls without dupatta, Christmas cake and a Cross emblem on an ambulance instead of Crescent, the mention of good morning instead of Assalamu Aliakum, and presence of some other ‘objectionable’ content in textbooks for primary schools.
“JI leaders have complained about minor things in textbooks, whose removal has been decided in principle,” the official said requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
He said JI had demanded replacement of the expression ‘good morning’ with Assalamu Aliakum and the government was quick to accept it.
JI had objected to pictures of girls without dupatta, X-mas cake, Cross emblem, good morning expression
When contacted, JI provincial spokesman Israrullah said his party had serious reservations about certain contents of textbooks but ‘objectionable’ content had been removed after elementary and secondary education minister Atif Khan met party leaders on Wednesday.
“Officials of the department concerned and textbook board have formally agreed to remove objectionable contents from textbooks and will induct material to be proposed by Jamaat,” he said.
The meeting held in Peshawar on Wednesday was attended by education minister Atif Khan, additional secretary education Qaisar Alam, chairman of the textbook board Jamal Nasir and other senior officers.
Jamaat-i-Islami was represented by local government minister Inayatullah Khan, head of the JI education committee Mirajuddin and other members of the party.
“Jamaat is now satisfied with the government’s assurances and hopes minutes of the meeting with the minister will be implemented in letter and spirit,” Israrullah said, adding that the revised syllabus would conform to Islamic teachings and the ideology of Pakistan.
JI had recently protested the presence of objectionable material in textbooks and even threatened to quit the PTI-led government over it.
JI provincial chief Professor Mohammad Ibrahim had stated early this month that his party had not been taken into confidence before preparation of syllabus for primary schools.
He had complained that the provincial government has removed lessons on the life of Holy Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be upon Him), His wives and four caliphs of Muslims from textbooks and inducted contents about Ranjit Singh, Raja Dahir, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
JI claimed that it had signed an agreement with its senior coalition partner in which it was decided that the controversial contents of textbooks by the previous government would be removed and that the new syllabus would be designed with the JI consultation.
Israrullah said the meeting of JI was held in Peshawar on Thursday night which discussed the recent agreement with the government regarding preparation of new syllabus for schools. Professor Ibrahim chaired the meeting.
The spokesman said the material related with teaching of Islam, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and important Muslim personalities, including Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinah, would again be included in textbooks.
He said the India-occupied Kashmir was not shown as part of Pakistan in the map printed in textbooks, while lessons about Quaid-i-Azam were also removed from textbooks designed for children.
He said induction of lesson about Khan Abdul Ghaffar was not a big issue.
The government official said the objection over Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was turned down and JI leaders were convinced that like Abdul Ghaffar Khan, every politician was controversial.
He said the map incorporated in the Survey of Pakistan had been reproduced in the textbooks.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2014