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Express Tribune

Published Date: Dec 16, 2012


Female teachers in Hazara division lack the experience to deal with minority children in classrooms. This was the finding of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) researcher Afsheen Naz, who presented her paper in a three-day conference that concluded here on Thursday.
Her findings revealed that most female teachers deal conservatively with religious minorities. “Most of them know about non-Muslim rituals but were against acting on them,” Naz stated.
Her paper focused on the Haripur, Abbotabad and Mansehra districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. According to Naz, many teachers socially isolated children falling in the religious minority bracket, in most cases they refused to shake their hand or eat food with them.
In some cases, mutual hate was the root cause of conflicts; the paper quoted them as saying that they “hate Hindus because they hate Muslims”.
Where it came to economic stability however, the responses were different — almost all teachers linked prosperity to both Muslims and non-Muslims. “Business relationships can be built with non-Muslims,” they said according to the report.
Half of the teachers quizzed did not classify living with non-Muslims as harmful or injurious to their faith, claiming instead that “our belief is stronger [than this] and it cannot be affected by living with people of other religions”.
Furthermore, when asked their reactions on non-Muslims insulting Muslims, the response was the righteous ones would be favoured irrespective of religion.
“Such positive trend indicates that misleading concepts of female-taught seminaries could be addressed through proper training,” Naz concluded.
Other speakers also presented their research papers on seminary reforms during a session titled “Rethinking Education for Pluralism: Representation of Religious Minorities in Public and Madrassah Education”. Research conducted by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics economist Abdul Wali Jamali emphasised overhauling the educational system to stop the rising militancy levels in the region.
Ilqa Publications Lahore General Manager Aamir Riaz pointed out the misuse of nationalism, religion and ideologies prevalent in the country’s school textbooks. “A person may have different identities but we should learn to live with ‘multi-identities’ in society,” he said.