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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Aug 1, 2017

Educational Reforms: Purge curriculum for progressive society

With biased teaching and distorted worldview contributing to a state of intolerance and extremism in the country, curriculum at various levels needs to be purged from all types of bigoted views and hate speech to develop a forward-looking and progressive society.
This was stated by experts at a seminar on ‘Reforms in the Educational Curriculum’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) at a local hotel on Monday.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf MNA Dr Arif Alivi said it was imperative to correct the curriculum taught in schools to nurture sentiments of love and co-existence in our society.
He said that this task should be undertaken as a national obligation with all stakeholders consulted to decide on a curriculum which can respond to the needs of the 21st century.
Nafeesa Khattak of the PTI was of the view that issues relating to education should be dealt with a national approach by all sides regardless of political biases. In this regard, she highlighted how the country had been built on the principle of safeguarding the rights of the religious minorities before partition. Hence, the majority population of today should ensure that rights of other religious communities living in Pakistan are protected, including the provision of an unbiased education.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri said that to protect future generations from the menace of extremism and terrorism, there was a need to learn about the ideals of fairness and coexistence. Moreover, he said that there was a need to build a counter-narrative against extremism and terrorism in the country, as envisaged in the National Action Plan.
Earlier, NCJP Executive Director Cecil S Chaudhry highlighted the importance of a hate-free curriculum to build a diverse society.
He said that to strengthen the nation and make it a peaceful, progressive and prosperous society – as envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, it was important to promote diversity and tolerance.
Scholar and academician Dr Qible Ayaz, while focusing on the global competitiveness of the curriculum, he said that an approach based on the principles of curiosity, analysis, research and empathy must be evolved.
Peter Jacob, a senior research scholar, emphasised the need for drastic reforms in the current education system. In this regard he pointed out various overlapping institutional roles in educational policy reforms constituted the major challenge to reforms which need to be addressed immediately.
Senior researcher and scholar Ahmed Saleem said there was an urgent need to refocus teachers’ training to remove any inherent bias teachers may have towards hate literature so that it does not reflect in their teaching.
Religion has nothing to do with education, as the founder of Pakistan said that religion had nothing to do with the business of state , he said. Activist Marvi Sirmed said one reason why curriculum bias was prevailing was due to parents’ lack of interest in their children’s education.
She urged parents to remain vigilant over what was being taught to their children.
The curriculum which we are teaching our kids only shows that war and bloodshed bring glory, and not otherwise, she said, adding that textbooks which openly glorify wars must be replaced with information about the ideals of peace and love.
However, Amir Rana, of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPs) said that removing hate literature from the curriculum was a structural issue and a comprehensive policy was required to reform the system.
Dr Gulab Khilji and Dr Riaz Shaikh said that while provinces were working on coming up with a new curriculum, their work was facing stiff resistance from certain quarters who have a vested interest in keeping the society retrogressive.Source: