The Punjab government decided to shelve new and revised Islamiat textbooks for class nine due to pressure from a religious group over the removal of verses on jihad, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The Punjab Textbook Board (PTB) spent Rs60 million on printing the new books for class nine, which are now gathering dust. Schools Education Secretary Aslam Kamboh said that the government had decided to stick with the old curriculum to avoid controversy and would revisit the issue next year.
PTB officials met on Friday to discuss a notification to formally declare that the old books are to be used this year and the new books will not be distributed. The 2012-13 academic session for class nine students in government schools began in April.
The curriculum was updated for the 2012-13 session as part of a regular review process by the Islamiat Curriculum Committee consisting of National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamic Studies Head Professor Dr Ziaul Haq Yousafzai, former Islamia University Azad Kashmir Vice Chancellor Dr Ishaq Qureshi, former Karachi University Baitul Quran Chairman Dr Fazal Ahmad, International Islamic Education Board Director Dr Mohsin Naqvi, Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Government College Sheikhupura Assistant Professor Matloob Rana, Islamabad Model College Assistant Professor Shahid Haseeb, Jamiatul Hujjat Islamabad Professor Sajid Ali Subhani, and Islamabad Model College for Girls Assistant Professors Fakhira Arshad, Shameem Kausar and Rasheeda Amjad. It was assisted by an advisory committee that included Dr Abdul Khaliq Peerzada, who got his PhD from Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Dr Maznoor Ahmad, rector of the International Islamic University Islamabad, and noted scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamdi.
The Tanzeem-i-Islami (TI), an NGO founded by the late Dr Asrar Ahmed, objected to the revised curriculum, noting that Quranic verses from Surah Anfaal, Surah Mumtahina and Surah Al-Ahzab concerning jihad were no longer included. Some teachers’ groups supported the TI on the issue.
A PTB official told The Tribune that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had chaired a meeting at the end of March that included TI officials, the education secretary and the PTB chairman. “The chief minister accepted the TI’s demand that the revised book not be used this year. PTB Chairman Shaikh Izhar had pointed out that not using the new books and reprinting the old ones would cause a Rs 60 million loss,” the PTB official said. Izhar was transferred from the PTB two days after the meeting and the board has been without a full-time chairman since, he added.
Another PTB official in the Curriculum Wing said that the jihad verses had not been removed from the curriculum entirely, merely moved to the syllabus for class 11 (intermediate).
Asked what objection the TI had to the jihad verses being moved to two years later in the curriculum, TI Public Relations and Publishing head Mirza Ayub Beg said that the matter had been settled and he did not wish to explain.
Schools Education Secretary Aslam Kamboh said the government had decided to go with the old curriculum to avoid controversy. He said it was important for Islamiat textbooks to have support from ulema.
“The newly revised book will go into stock and maybe a decision will be made to use them in the next academic year. Otherwise we can use it as a supplementary document or something,” he said. “Next year, we will again seek a consensus and then decide about the newly revised book.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2012.