Students wear protective masks maintaining a safe distance when attending a class. – AFP / File
By our journalist
Christian organizations have raised concerns following Pakistan’s decision to implement a new national curriculum that will Islamize the education system with an emphasis on the Quran and Islamic teaching.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), an interfaith human rights organization dedicated to helping Christians around the world, the changes will only strengthen radicals to oppress Christians, among other minority groups in the nation. .
Speaking to the country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Monday that the first phase of the implementation of the new curriculum involves primary schoolchildren in grades 1 through 5.
âThe plan requires students to read the entire Quran with translation, learn Islamic prayers and memorize a number of hadiths (words, actions and approval of the Prophet Muhammad),â the German public international broadcaster reported.
The new curriculum also stipulates that each school and college must employ a pair of certified Hafiz (a person who has memorized the Quran) and Qari (a reciter of the Quran) to teach these subjects.
In the process, the government will introduce in its second phase the new curriculum devoted to Islam for middle school students and perhaps for high school students in grades 11 and 12.
According to DW, critics generally believe that this decision “will increase the influence of Islamic clerics, accentuate sectarian loopholes and significantly damage the social fabric.”
“The current Pakistani program already contains sectarian and hateful material and makes derogatory references to various minority religious communities in Pakistan,” the ICC warned.
Urdu, English and social studies have been strongly Islamized, Islamabad-based scholar Abdul Hameed Nayyar told DW. He added that the students will also study the 30 chapters of the Quran and a translation of the whole book at a later stage, in addition to the book on Islamic studies.
Nayyar explained to DW that critical thinking is a staple of modern knowledge, but the government seems to be promoting ideas that are antithetical to it through the program.
Lahore-based educator Mr. Rubina Saigol explained during his interview with DW that âthe program is likely to produce students with a global conservative Islamic perspective, who would view women as submissive souls who do not deserve the freedom and independence.
The Islamization of curricula has not been limited to schools, according to sources. Recently, the government of Punjab province also made Quran teaching with translation compulsory for all university students.
According to the provincial government, writes DW, students will not receive diplomas if they do not study the Quran.
What officials say
Speaking to the media, a parliamentarian from the ruling party, Mr. Muhammad Bashir Khan, said that the Islamization of the program “is the right step”.
âPakistan is an ideological Islamic state and we need religious education,â he reportedly said. “I think that even now our program is not completely Islamized and that we need to do more Islamization of the program, teaching more religious content for the moral and ideological training of our citizens.”