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May 5, 2015
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Madrassa reform continues to be ignored

National

May 5, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: An important part of the National Action Plan (NAP) is to improve situation of religious schools (seminaries) and enable their students to become part of mainstream, which is almost ignored as different departments are working without any mutual coordination.
Presently, three federal departments and provincial governments are working in this regard but due lack of coordination and seriousness they are unlikely to reach practical result.
Now federal minister religious affairs is making efforts to register and streamline seminaries and he wants to control three seminaries which are being run by Religious Affairs Ministry, without any legal mandate. One Madrassa is in Islamabad and one each in Sukkur and Karachi. These Madrassas will also be without funds after 30th June 2015.
At the same time, a committee constituted by Interior Ministry headed by secretary religious affairs is also ‘trying’ to reform religious education. Additional secretaries education and interior are members of this committee. A member told The News that the pace at which this committee is working would take decades to formulate any plan to take care of millions of students getting education in Madrassas. All the efforts are being made to have control over the religious institutions from all departments, he said.
Provincial governments, which are actually controlling authority, are not ready to move over the issue. The only thing being done is to register these Madrassa, which in no way will improve their condition, commented another member.
Purpose to include madras’s in NAP was to improve standard of education to the level that students of Madrassas should be able to play effective role in the society. Now ministry of religious affairs, provincial governments and Interior Ministry are functioning without any coordination on Madrassa reform programme and some religious leaders are opposing the registration.
A senior official of the Religious Affairs

Ministry told The News that Nawaz Sharif government’s education vision remained a fruitless effort as its recommendations were never read while Musharraf government under supervision of then religious affairs minister Mahmud Ghazi started a fresh move to reform seminaries.
A team comprising all religious leaders and led by then secretary religious affairs Wakil Ahmad Khan visited US and UK and gave recommendations to improve condition of Madrassas. Tremendous work was done by that team and they gave recommendations. On the basis of these recommendations, Pakistan Madras’s Education Ordinance was promulgated. The ordinance was never laid before parliament and it lapsed without implementation. So no practical work was done.
Then PPP government started a fresh effort and after hectic effort a memorandum of understanding was signed between Ministry of Interior and religious leaders. This was also a good document but it never got implemented.
Now under NAP, again efforts are being made to reform and streamline Madrassas. Again a study will be conducted and fresh recommendation will be finalised and in the meanwhile government’s tenure will be over.
The MOU signed between the Ministry and religious scholars stated madrassas aimed to include compulsory contemporary subjects in curricula of Metric (equivalent to Saniva Amma) and intermediate (equivalent to Sanvia Khassa). All madrassas had to teach compulsory subjects as prescribed by the government. Five Boards run by Ittehad-e-Tanzeemate-Madras Pakistan (ITMP) were to be organised like other Boards under an Act of Parliament. Ultimately, these five boards were to be linked with Ministry of Education.
Madrassas promised not to teach or publish literature promoting militancy or extremism and every madrassa would abide the society’s registration act of 1860 as amended by XIX of 2005. Foreign students’ registration was to be regularised by Interior Ministry. This was excellent agreement and Ahmad Khan, who worked through it, is still around. Now after 18th Amendment, provincial governments are supposed to deal with education. But federal government is also running three madrassas - one for girls in Islamabad and two for boys, one each in Sukkur and Karachi. Under law, these madrassas have no legality and they will not have funding after June, 2015.
Now requirement is to implement this MOU instead of making fresh reports and evolve fresh consensus, which had always been a difficult task.

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