Source: News Bharati
Washington, November 11: Detoxification brigade of India could found a new job and challenge in Pakistan as the public schools and madrassas of the Islamic nation are spreading hatred and negatively portraying Hindus with its other religious minorities and reinforcing biases which could fuel acts of discrimination and possibly violence, against these communities.
According to a US study titled ‘Connecting the Dots: Education and Religious Discrimination in Pakistan,’ involved the examination of social studies, Islamic studies, and Urdu textbooks and pedagogical methods in Pakistan’s public school system and its madrassa system. The goal of the year-long study was to explore linkages between the portrayal of religious minorities in public schools and madrassas, biases that exist against minorities in Pakistan and subsequent acts of discrimination or extremist violence.
Sponsored by independent, bipartisan US Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and conducted by the International Centre for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) the study found that, Public school textbooks used by all children often had a strong Islamic orientation, and Pakistan’s religious minorities were referenced derogatorily or omitted altogether.
The report is based on a critical review of various public School Provincial Textbook Board Textbooks and Madrassa Textbooks and have interviewed. ICRD, with the independent Pakistani think tank Sustainable Development Policy Institute, reviewed more than 100 textbooks from grades 1-10 from all of Pakistan’s four provinces. Students and teachers from public schools and madrassas were interviewed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), Balochistan, Sindh, and Punjab. Thirty-seven middle and high schools were visited, with 277 students and teachers interviewed individually or in group settings. Two hundred and twenty-six madrassa students and teachers were interviewed from 19 madrassas.
Report documents how Pak schools intensifying religious differences
The results of this report are eye opening and concerning. Public school textbooks used by all children often were found to have a strong Islamic orientation, while Pakistan’s religious minorities were either referenced derogatorily or omitted all together. Hindus, one of Pakistan’s religious minorities, were described in especially negative terms, and references to Christians were often inaccurate and offensive.
Madrassa textbooks have generally portrayed non-Muslims in one of three ways. They are kafirs (infidels) or mushrakeen (pagans), dhimmis (non-Muslims living under Islamic rule) and murtids (people who have turned away from Islam). Non-Muslims were never described as citizens with the constitutionally protected rights which accompany citizenship.
The report has stated its primary finding as, amongst all minorities in Pakistan, especially Hindus were depicted in negative terms. The references to Christians were often inaccurate and offensive. The reports unearths weak knowledge among Public school and madrassa teachers that they had limited awareness or understanding of religious minorities and their beliefs and were divided on whether religious minorities were citizens. The teachers often expressed very negative views about Ahmadis, Christians, and Jews, and successfully transmitted these biases to their students.
USCIRF chairman Leonard Leo has commented that, “This study - the first-ever study of its kind, documents how Pakistan’s public schools and privately-run madrassas are not teaching tolerance but are exacerbating religious differences.”
Textbooks foster prejudice against Hindus and Christians
USCIRF found that textbooks used in Pakistani primary and secondary schools foster prejudice and intolerance of religious minorities, especially Hindus and Christians. Such intolerant references are not restricted to Islamic studies textbooks, they are found in both early elementary and more advanced social studies texts used by all public school students, including non-Muslims.
Textbook teaches Hindus are extremists and eternal enemies of Islam
The report says that the Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam. Hindu culture and society are portrayed as unjust and cruel, while Islam is portrayed as just and peaceful.
A Pakistan and Social Studies textbooks are common with negative comments regarding India and Great Britain, but Hindus are often singled out for particular criticism in texts. According to the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) report, the Government issued textbooks teach students that Hindus are ‘backward and superstitious’ and given a chance, they would assert their power over the weak, especially, Muslims, depriving them of education by pouring molten lead in their ears…”
The defense of Pakistan is equated with the defense of Islam
The survey finds that while citizenship is mentioned in textbooks without religious qualification, and a few references to universal religious freedom can be found, textbooks generally emphasize the fundamental Islamic identity of Pakistan and the need for unity within the Muslim community.
The Islamic identity of Pakistan is established throughout the Social Studies and Pakistan Studies textbooks, to the exclusion of religious minorities. One text book teaches that, “The foreign cultures are leaving deep influence over the Islamic values because of the electronic media. There is every danger that we may lose our cultural identities. it is necessary for us that we must fully defend our political borders; take care of our basic views with love and devotion for Islam. This can ensure the safety of our country. The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world.”
The survey found that this flamboyant message is published in the book published by private publisher. However, it was distributed by the Government of Punjab for the academic year 2010-11. The book states, “This book is prepared as per international standards under the National Curriculum 2006 and National Textbook and Learning Materials Policy 2007.
Constitutional provisions, a challenge for unbiased environment
The report, in its recommendations stresses for the promotion of full implementation of the 2006 curricular reforms in Pakistan which represent a major step towards the elimination of biases against religious minorities in the textbooks.
The report suggests gradual improvements in curriculum and says that it should adhere to curricular guidelines given by the Ministry of Education of Pakistan. The report comments that content relating to Islamic studies should be consolidated into the Islamiat
The report insists for a mechanism of reporting for cases of discrimination against religious minorities and also a new course on ‘Ethics for Non-Muslims’ compulsory for all students.
It focuses on the teacher-training programs to aware them about the constitutional rights of religious minorities.
The report finds that the real cause behind the toxification of the education in Pakistan exists in the provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan and suggests the remove pejorative content from the Constitution of 1973.
Report has quoted multiple sections of the Constitution which present a challenge in the creation of an unbiased environment for religious minorities both in the education system and society at large.