• Calling attention notice raises alarm over content contrary to Islamic, cultural values
• Senator says draft bill to provide protection, relief and rehabilitation to transgender persons
ISLAMABAD: The Senate was assured on Tuesday that steps were underway to get objectionable material removed from the O level syllabus.
Minister for Education Rana Tanveer Hussain informed the house that a notice was being issued to Cambridge to remove the content, otherwise these books would not be allowed in Pakistan.
He was responding to a calling attention notice moved by senators Mohsin Aziz and Faisal Saleem Rehman, who raised alarm over the content relating to ‘same SRC family’, being contrary to Islamic and cultural teachings and values of Pakistani society.
“The government will also write to the provinces to take necessary measures in this connection,” the minister said, endorsing the views, earlier expressed by the movers of the notice, and asserting that the content had nothing do with Pakistan and its values and culture.
About the national curriculum, he explained that unlike during the previous government, when barring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the other three provinces had reservations over the PTI government’s curriculum, the incumbent government had evolved consensus and now all the provinces were signatory to the new national curriculum.
He claimed that the then federal minister for education had also not agreed to the curriculum, adding that three to four countries, who previously were associated with Cambridge, had now opted for Pakistan’s federal exam system following reforms in it.
Senator Mohsin Aziz said in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a chapter on ‘same sex family’ could not even be discussed in the family system, adding that what kind of education was being imparted to a child, hardly 14, 15 and 16 years of age. He also read out some portion of the content. He called for writing to the British Council and other foras so that such content was not part of the syllabus.
Senator Faisal Saleem feared that such content was tantamount to eroding respect of parents and teachers in students and strongly advocated immediate action against it. He also called for proper scrutiny of institutions, where such content was being taught and sought cancellation of their licences.
The minister assured the lawmakers that a report on the progress made and action taken would be shared with the house.
A special report by a Senate panel on bills proposing amendments to the Transgenders’ Act also landed in the house.
Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman Walid Iqbal presented the report of the committee consolidating six bills, proposing amendments to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018.
Speaking in the house, Senator Iqbal said the draft bill would provide full protection, relief and rehabilitation to transgender persons and cater to their rights in line with Shariah and the Constitution.
The chairman said while the committee was reviewing all the pros and cons of the bill, the government had stated that the matter was sub judice in the Federal Shariat Court and requested to deal with it after the decision in the light of court’s directions. The committee decided to take up the matter in consultation with all stakeholders in advance and introduced amendments to the bill.
He said although it was a unanimous bill drafted within the parameters of the Constitution, there were still two clauses which were being opposed almost by all movers of the bill.
He claimed that if the bill was passed by the Senate in the present shape and was later challenged in the Federal Shariat Court, he himself would defend it as the clauses under question were at par with the Constitution.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2023