ISLAMABAD: The Directorate General of Religious Education (DGRE) established by the Ministry of Federal Education in September 2019 has so far registered 5,000 seminaries across the country.
The directorate has 16 regional offices set up to register the seminaries. There are an estimated 35,000 seminaries in the country.
“Around three million students are enrolled in the 35,000 seminaries out of which 26,160 are registered with the provincial/area governments under the society act. About 25,000 seminaries are affiliated with five organisations/boards (examining bodies) working under the supra body of Madaris Ittehad Tanzeematul Madaris Pakistan (ITMP),” said the ministry of education on its website.
In May 2019, the ministry after holding a series of meetings with representatives of religious seminaries had decided to start registration of all madressahs across the country besides helping them open bank accounts, admit foreign students, introduce vocational education and adopt the single national curriculum. Subsequently, in October 2019, the government set up the directorate.
The head of the DGRE, Rafiq Tahir, speaking to Dawn on Sunday said so far 5,000 seminaries had been registered, adding by the end of this year 5,000 more seminaries will be registered.
Directorate General of Religious Education was set up to register madressahs in Sept 2019
To a query, he said the process of registration of madressahs was going on smoothly and there was no resistance.
“Since religious boards of all sects were on board when we started this initiative, there is no hurdle. We are hopeful that by the end of this year the figure of registered seminaries will be over 10,000,” he said.
Asked about the deadline, he said the work was to be completed in three phases and the progress was on track.
Earlier, after holding a series of meetings with the ministry officials, Ittehad Tanzeemat-i-Madaris representatives had agreed to get all seminaries affiliated with them registered with the education ministry.
Religious scholars from various schools of thought, who attended the meetings regularly, included Mufti Mohammad Rafi Usmani (Mufti-i-Azam Pakistan and vice president Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia), Mufti Muneebur Rehman (Tanzeemul Madaris Ahle Sunnat Pakistan president), Maulana Hanif Jalandhari (Nazim, Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia), Maulana Mohammad Yasin Zafar (general secretary Wafaqul Madaris Al-Salfia), Allama Syed Qazi Niaz Hasan Naqvi (vice president Wafaqul Madaris Al-Shia), Dr Attaur Rehman (general secretary Rabtaul Madarasul Islamia), and Maulana Mohammad Afzal Haidri, general secretary Wafaqul Madaris Al Shia Pakistan.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also runs a large number of seminaries, was not part of the agreement as his party did not attend the meetings. Similarly, the seminaries affiliated with Minhajul Quran of Dr Tahirul Qadri and those running under the supervision of some custodians of shrines have so far not held any meeting with the ministry.
However, the head of DGRE said all sects were on board for registration of the madressahs.
Meanwhile, an official of DGRE said religious seminaries will also adopt the single national curriculum (SNC), which was going to be introduced from the upcoming academic session in August at the primary level across the country. He said besides their own syllabus, the seminaries will also teach the SNC at the primary level.
In the past, several attempts were made by successive governments to bring religious seminaries into the mainstream but they were not successful.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2021