PESHAWAR: Waking up from a deep slumber after decades, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board has begun developing books on Ethics as an alternative subject to Islamiat for non-Muslim schoolchildren in the province.
Currently, Islamiat is not compulsory for non-Muslim students at schools. They can opt for Ethics subject in place of Islamiat.
Ironically, the KPTB hasn’t yet developed Ethics textbooks for public and private schools in the province.
The situation has forced missionary schools in the province to teach Ethics books published by the Punjab Textbook Board or written noted authors to their non-Muslim students.
“We have students of different religions, mostly Muslims and therefore, we have arranged teachers for them to teach things about the respective religions to them,” the principal of a local missionary school told Dawn.
He said every student had the right to learn about his/her religion and culture at school.
An official of the elementary and secondary education department said non-Muslim students of government schools mostly had no choice but to study Islamiat due to unavailability of Ethics teacher.
Sources in the KPTB said the study material on Ethics for fourth-12th grades had been prepared in light of the latest curriculum and that its review would begin soon.
They said the publication of textbooks on Ethics would begin once experts completed the review of study material.
The sources said efforts would be made to introduce some Ethics books for primary classes in the next academic year beginning April.
Most non-Muslims forced to study Islamiat in schools
A schoolteacher told Dawn that a non-Muslim ninth grader enrolled in the Government High School Dabgari selected Ethics as optional subject but had to change its decision due to unavailability of a teacher for it.
“We told him that it’s impossible to arrange a separate teacher for him,” he said. A total of 15 non-Muslim students are enrolled in the Government Primary School, Asia Gate, and six in the Government Middle School, Asia Gate. These students, all Sikhs, have been studying Islamiat since their enrolment.
A teacher said several non-Muslim schoolchildren had been securing excellent marks, which were far better than their Muslim colleagues, in the annual examinations and monthly tests. He said such students secured more marks in Islamiat than Ethics.
When contacted, special assistant to the chief minister on minority affairs Sardar Soran Singh said most Sikh students had long been studying Islamiat at government schools in the province.
“Non-Muslim students avoid selecting Ethics due to the absence of textbooks and study material,” he said.
Singh said unavailability of specialist teachers for Ethics was also to blame for non-Muslims not opting for Ethics as alternate to Islamiat.
Published in Dawn March 1st , 2015