Teaching human rights in schools

Published: December 8, 2012
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This move should be seen as a step in the positive direction for promoting democracy in our country. PHOTO: FILE

This move should be seen as a step in the positive direction for promoting democracy in our country. PHOTO: FILE

In a welcome development recently, the Sindh High Court directed provincial law officers to comment on a petition that seeks to include a human rights subject in school curricula. It aims to push content related to human rights into classroom syllabi, pulling material from the Constitution. This move should be seen as a step in the positive direction for promoting democracy in our country, which includes informing citizens of their basic human rights so that they can recognise when their rights are violated and seek action against injustice rather than silently accept it.

While our Constitution might contain several controversial points on the basis of religious rights and freedoms for some groups, this step can be seen as a start towards developing a prejudice-free society. Providing examples of the injustices committed on discriminatory bases towards innocent people of various groups in society will, hopefully, open the minds of our youth and transform them into tolerating individuals as they enter adulthood. Perhaps, through this education, our young generation will understand that all humans should be treated as humans first. Now that the government has focused its attention on state-run school curricula, maybe it can also work on rewriting discriminatory textbook passages such as those passing judgment on countries with which Pakistan has had a turbulent history, like India. The actions of a people from the past should not be used to judge a newer generation and hatred and prejudice should be excised.

We hope to see a nationwide change in school curricula across Pakistan, not just in Sindh but reaching to the far extents of Fata, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir. Responsible departments should really take control of the school curricula and education system in helping students view matters of academic importance objectively. In this regard, teachers must also be trained so as not to impress their personal beliefs on students. Their goal should be to train students to form their own informed opinions on matters of religion, politics and morality. We hope to see updates on this issue with the petition being pushed forward so that one day, we may see a tolerant Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Feroz
    Dec 9, 2012 - 6:44AM

    This is an excellent idea and must be commended. Human Rights must be valued and for this the young generation must be taught tolerance. Speedy reforms in the school curriculum should be included to excise hate material against any community, religion and country. Once the kids are put on the right path it is much easier to shape and mold them as responsible citizens.

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  • usman786
    Dec 9, 2012 - 8:54AM

    It shd also educate them on ethical and religios harmony. Other provinces to piggy back it

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  • wonderer
    Dec 9, 2012 - 10:47AM

    “…. we may see a tolerant Pakistan.”

    How do we teach children that killing of even Kaffirs is not Islamic?

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  • Mirza
    Dec 9, 2012 - 11:19AM

    A great idea but the time may have already passed now. Our education and upbringing is based upon “only we are right all others are wrong” and it must be reversed. We are all equal human beings and nobody is better or worse. The law of the land is superior not the religious belief.

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  • Z.Khan
    Dec 9, 2012 - 12:35PM

    “We hope to see a nationwide change in school curricula across Pakistan, not just in Sindh but reaching to the far extents of Fata, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir. Responsible departments should really take control of the school curricula and education system in helping students view matters of academic importance objectively. In this regard, teachers must also be trained so as not to impress their personal beliefs on students. Their goal should be to train students to form their own informed opinions on matters of religion, politics and morality. We hope to see updates on this issue with the petition being pushed forward so that one day, we may see a tolerant Pakistan”
    Well opined. A very good move be pushed with full force for follow up and implementation. Why Punjab excluded here lies the major problem? Similarly some built in systme to be evolved to automatically check teachers trying to impose upon their own ideas or interpretations. Earnest wish and pray for the success. God may help such good thinkers and well wishers of Pakistan

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  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Dec 9, 2012 - 7:12PM

    Look who is talking human rights. Why not start cleaning up from the top. Amend the constitution and struck down any legal reference to define who is muslim or not. Leave it to religious bodies and offer equal protection to all religious sect. then make changes to the text book and educate them that according to our constitution—–

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  • wonderer
    Dec 9, 2012 - 8:12PM

    @Its (still) Econonmy Stupid:

    You seem to know a lot Sir. Do you have an answer to a question I posted in the morning? (reproduced below in bold type.)

    How do we teach children that killing of even Kaffirs is not Islamic?

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  • Z.Khan
    Dec 9, 2012 - 9:31PM

    @wonderer:
    Killing of any human being merely on the baiss of faith or belief is not allowed in Quran or Hadith. This simple fact has to be taught to all. Simple is that if there is a will, courage to ensure absolute justice for all segments of the society.

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  • wonderer
    Dec 10, 2012 - 8:22PM

    @Z.Khan:

    You are right Sir, in what you say. But does Qura’n not ask its followers to kill Kaffirs???

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  • Z.Khan
    Dec 10, 2012 - 8:42PM

    @wonderer:
    Mention the reference. I can explain you the real and true interpretation.

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