LAHORE: Academics and social activists discussed on Monday textbooks, curricula and education policy of Pakistan, especially in context of a research study, titled ‘Quality education Vs fanatic literacy’.

The research, co-authored by Dr AH Nayyar, Dr Riaz Shaikh, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, Tahira Abdullah, Prof Anjum James Paul, Dr Baela Raza Jamil and Laraib Niaz, was launched by the Centre for Social Justice.

It analyses books and syllabi being taught in the country and examines the extent of religious inclusion as well discrimination besides portrayal of religious personalities in school textbooks.

Mr Shaikh, the dean of department of social sciences, SZABIST, shared the findings of the study, stressing a dire need to introduce more learning content with respect to sensitivity towards other religions, peace-building, acceptance and tolerance.

He explained that public schools’ textbooks had stereotypes and biases towards religious minorities.

Ms Jamil, the chief executive officer of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, termed the learning material such as textbooks the most powerful means of inculcating positive attitudes in students to build an inclusive society. She added that teaching religion in public educational institutions was fraught with tensions and caused exclusion of minority groups in South Asian countries.

Mr Nayyar underlined the violation of Article 22 (1) of the constitution, which states that “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 said the authors and textbooks boards had been violating this constitutional safeguard for the rights of religious minorities. He demanded that textbooks of non-religious subjects should not contain any religious lessons.

Mr Paul, the chairman of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers Association, and MPA Bushra Anjum Butt also spoke.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2020

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