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August 10, 2020

Partial imposition of madrassa curriculum violation of provincial autonomy

World

August 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a webinar have said that madrassa curriculum is partially being imposed on the regular primary education system in the country by the Federal Government which is a violation of provincial autonomy guaranteed by the Constitution under the 18th Amendment.

They were speaking at the first webinar after the break due to the advent of coronavirus lockdown. Organised by Senior Journalists Forum here Friday, the topic was ‘Single National Curriculum: Why usurp provinces’ right.’ With this, SJF is resuming its weekly seminar series though, for some period, the exercise will remain online.

Speaking on the occasion, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar asked whether we need a single national curriculum. He called it a backdoor attack on provincial autonomy under the 18th amendment. After education, other areas will be targeted later, he feared. This is an old agenda of the national security state and religious extremists to create a religious- security-dominated agenda to suppress dissent. They don’t want the freedom of expression, he said adding that there is no need for a single curriculum.

He said that the actual need is to end inequality in education by providing access to the Internet, teachers’ training, and educational structures in all the areas of the country. He said that we must consolidate nationalities in a multi-national country.

National Party President Hasil Bizenjo said that the religious right enjoys powerful backing also but we have the power of the pen, he said. He said that the Ayub era also had people with JI type thinking in its fold including bureaucracy. He said that politicians and intellectuals should resist this onslaught on the rights of the people. If we do not resist, we will face more problems.

He said we got two achievements: four provinces during Yahya regime and 18th amendment. He emphasised that no province will allow touching this. He said that all provinces already existed at the time of independence and were later merged into Pakistan. We should have, instead, promoted their identity, language and culture. By saying that provinces are not important is against history. He said nations are not made by force. The time has come to resist religious zealots, he concluded.

Dr Pervaiz Amirali Hoodbhoy, former Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University said that changes are made in Urdu and Islamiyat syllabi up to Class 5. New topics were included and a student must remember many ‘Ahadis’, ‘duas’ etc.

He said that India also announced a National Education Policy 2020 under BJP-RSS Hindutva ideology. They are trying to make a multicultural nation with Hindutva as a hidden agenda. Here in Pakistan, he said, the motive is too obvious and may lead to religious controversies and sectarianism leading us to a dark future for Pakistan.

Former Chief Minister, Balochistan, Dr Malik said that we must accept that Pakistan is a multicultural country. The religion is between God and man and State should be out of it. He said that Balochi and Punjabi languages will cease to exist if we do not teach mother tongues at the primary level. He said that no nationality will accept discrimination and denial of their heritage and civilisation.

Activist and academician Dr AH Nayyar who conducted the proceedings said that tenders have been called to publish textbooks though the government is saying the curriculum is still not final. He said that the proposed general syllabus included Madrassa topics also. He said that the provinces are being roped in to accepting it

Dr Tauseef Ahmad Khan from Urdu University pointed out that JI leanings opposed Darwin’s teaching and unscientific approach surfaced. He regretted that Quiad-i-Azam’s efforts for women’s rights were not made part of texts. He said that this Single National Curriculum will take us back to reactionary and conservative thinking. He called for developing scientific mentality for progress and development of Pakistan.

M Ziauddin, head of SJF, said that we should teach Urdu and English but Mother Tongue should not be ignored. He said that it is dangerous to give religions at the hands of rulers.