To some it may appear a bit short-sighted and even autocratic of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to give control of registering 3,028 seminaries, as well as finalising their curriculum and conducting examinations in the province, to the elementary and secondary education department. The provincial authorities, however, insist the landmark move is aimed at mainstreaming the seminaries — a praiseworthy step by any stretch of the imagination — which is expected to test the resolve of the government in more ways than one. Since it is being done for the first time — whatever the final outcome — it is bound to run into a fair share of hiccups. But let us remember that the move is not as ludicrous as the provincial industries department exercising control over the affairs of seminaries, as was previously done. The K-P government has empowered the education department to supervise the registration, curriculum, examination, monitoring and other activities of seminaries. This was done by amending the rules of business of 1985.
The provincial authorities have given the impression that there is some degree of unanimity between religious scholars of different schools of thought and education department officials over the supervision of seminaries. This may not be an accurate version of events — at least that is the contention of the secretary general of Wifaqul Madaris Al Arabia (WMAA), K-P chapter. As far as he is concerned, the WMAA official is unaware of any such move. For the time being the education department will handle the registration of seminaries, it will probably not bother to trifle with the curriculum, examinations and monitoring because that task is just too complex. Such a task is also doomed without proper consultation of the representatives of seminaries. Until such consultations yield a mutually acceptable formula, it is hard to see any consensus emerge. The provincial authorities need to bring some clarity on the issue of mainstreaming seminaries so that the supervisory role of the education department is not undermined or misunderstood.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2018.