close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
April 22, 2021

Punjab HR dept directs PCTB to shift all religious content from syllabus to Islamiyat

Top Story

April 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Punjab’s Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department has asked the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) to exclude all Islamic content-- including hamd, naat and topics on the life of the Prophet (PBUH)-- from the textbooks of all subjects, including Urdu, English and General Knowledge, and shift the material to Islamiyat.

Sources, however, confirm that this direction of the provincial HR department to the PCTB has been given without there being any decision on the matter by the provincial cabinet. The Punjab HR Department’s letter even ignored the Supreme Court, which has yet to take a decision on the proposed changes suggested by a one-man Minority Commission.

According to the letter dated April 1, 2021, issued by the Human Rights & Minorities Affairs Department, the MD PCTB has been directed to implement the decision taken in a meeting held on November 11, 2020 under the chairmanship of the one-man commission. The MD PCTB has also been conveyed the decision, which reads: “Religious content must be excluded from the books of other subjects and must be restricted to the books specifically intended for religious knowledge (Islamiyat/Ethics).”

The letter added, “I am further directed to request that compliance may kindly be shared in hard copies and soft format (at xxx email address) for onward submission to the one-man commission.

Copies of the letter have also been shared with the Director to the one-man commission; PSO to the Additional Chief Secretary, S&GAD Lahore; and PS to Secretary I&C, S&GAD. When contacted, the concerned official of the provincial human rights department confirmed to The News that a direction to this effect has been given to the MD PCTB following the decisions of the one-man commission. The HR dept cited the decisions of its November 2020 meeting with the one-man commission, which interestingly has recommended to the Supreme Court on March 30, 2021 to shift all Islamic content from all subjects including Urdu, English and General Knowledge to Islamiyat to ensure that non-Muslims students are not made to read Islamic material.

However, the SC has yet to take a decision on the commission’s recommendations, that are highly controversial and has been resisted by even the Education Ministry at the federal level.

Not only this, the Pakistan National Commission for Minorities has also distanced itself from the SC’s one-man commission and expressed its “complete disagreement” with the latter’s report presented before the apex court. The NCM said that the Single National Curriculum is a welcome step by the present government.

The News reported on Tuesday that the one-man commission -- set up by the SC for the implementation of the minority rights judgment 2014 -- in its report submitted before the apex court had sought the exclusion of several Islamic topics from the compulsory Urdu, English and General Knowledge syllabus for non-Muslim students insisting their inclusion violates Article 22 of the Constitution.

The one-man commission, in its report submitted before the SC on March 30, also suggested that all Islamic content from the Single National Curriculum (SNC) should be exclusively placed in the textbooks of Islamic Studies/Islamiyat, a subject compulsory only for Muslim students. “In the context of the SNC, Islamic content in English and Urdu textbooks amounts to ‘religious instruction’ which no non-Muslim student can be compelled to study,” the report said.

The Commission in its report claimed to have conveyed the concern expressed by several minority rights scholars and activists that Islamic religious content had been added to compulsory subjects like Urdu and English which was tantamount to compelling minority students to receive Islamic religious instruction.