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January 12, 2018

Move to place madrassas under edu dept triggers debate


January 12, 2018

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s move to place seminaries under the Elementary and Secondary Education Department has generated debate in the province.

Special Secretary, Elementary and Secondary Education, Khalid Khan said on Thursday that his department was handed over the task of registration of seminaries after amendment in the Rules of Business.

The official said currently the department would work on registration of seminaries. However, he added that the issue of curriculum, examination and monitoring was yet to be decided.

When asked about the objective of placing seminaries under the Elementary and Secondary Education Department, he said it was illogical to have the seminaries registration handled by the Industries Department.

Earlier, Industries Department was responsible for registration of seminaries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “The department will register religious seminaries as non-governmental organisations and it would not interfere in their affairs,” said the official.

When contacted, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Information Secretary Abdul Jalil Jan doubted the government’s ability to handle the affairs of seminaries.

He also questioned the government capability to develop curriculum for seminaries. “It’s not capable to develop curriculum for universities and colleges let alone seminaries,” he argued. However, he added that his party would not object if all stakeholders agreed to the government plan. “JUI-F will have no objection if the religious boards agree to the government intervention in the affairs of Madaris,” he added.

Awami National Party (ANP) leader Sardar Hussain Babak welcomed the move, saying that the government should not only register but also regulate seminaries as mentioned in the National Action Plan.

He pointed out that thousands of children were enrolled at seminaries that needed government support and supervision. He added that the government should deal with seminaries like private schools.

He said registration of seminaries would enable the government to provide facilities, including teaching staff, to these institutions.

Jamaat-e-Islami provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmed Khan claimed that nobody was against reforms, but stressed the need for taking all stakeholders onboard before undertaking such endeavours.

“The reforms should not be under the US or other western country’s pressure. It must be done after consultation with the five boards of the seminaries,” he maintained.

He said that Madaris had been demanding shifting the authority of registration to Education Department. However, he asked the government to make the registration process simple and allow Madaris to open bank accounts. He said the government on the one hand asks seminaries to conduct audit of their finances while on the other it was not allowing the Madaris to open bank accounts. Regarding a question about reforms in curriculum, he said that external pressure for changing curriculum would not yield results. He advised the government to move ahead after taking the stakeholders onboard.

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