Instead of empty slogans, government should practically prioritize education sector

Peshawar: Speakers at a round table dialogue urged the government that instead of empty slogans, it should practically prioritize education sector and try to make a uniform and inclusive curriculum, equally beneficial for all citizens living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The consultation titled ‘Just and Sustainable Peace in Pakistan’ was organized by Peace Education and Development (PEAD) Foundation in collaboration with Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Pakistan. On the occasion Chief Planning Officer Elementary and Secondary Education, Idrees Azam, President School Officers Association District Peshawar, Mohammad Attaullah, Pakistan Sikh Youth Council, Radesh Singh Toni, Chairman Shalom Bible Society, Amir William, PEAD executive director Sameena Imtiaz, senior representative NCA Fareeha Iftikhar and others were present.

Sameena Imtiaz of PEAD shared some findings of the foundation’s study regarding the kind of material in the curriculum of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which was modified in three different phases since Zia regime. “There is no mention of religious minorities in the textbooks, who played important role in creation of Pakistan as their Muslim counterparts,” she said adding that by including these people in the list of heroes of Pakistan, discrimination can be eliminated at least on the education side.

Chief Planning Officer, Idrees Azam added that Directorate of Curriculum and Teacher Education and KP textbook board are the relevant authorities for curriculum development and revision. ‘If minorities think that there is some material in the textbooks that hurt their sentiments, they must report it to the concerned authorities’, he said adding that department of education is striving to develop a revisited and reformed curriculum.

Ms. Shagufta of PEAD remarked that social discrimination had been promoted through education for three decades and hatred materials were made part of the books, which weakened the social bonds between the followers of various religions residing in Pakistan.

Program Manager SCR-KP Tariq Hayat said there are capacity gaps and administrative issues at provincial levels, due to which the provinces are unable to develop their own updated curriculum for schools, even the new national curriculum approved in 2006 couldn’t be completely transformed into textbooks so far due to various reasons.

Mutahir Shah, senior representative of textbook board KP, said that the curriculum is based on the ideology of Pakistan, however as per national policy 2009, no hate related content for any sect/faith can be inculcated in any textbooks being taught in state run schools, but still there is always room for improvement. He assured that the department of education and textbook board will welcome any suggestions and inputs from the residents of the provinces.

Radesh Toni Singh urged that we all, irrespective of our religious backgrounds, should try to assist the government to expunge all hate material and distorted history from the curriculum for a socially cohesive and just society.