Textbook biases: ‘Our schools are extremism factories’

Education best way to curb extremism, say speakers at NCJP conference.

Burhan Fawad June 27, 2013
The speakers said that current education and curriculum policy should be reviewed to remove discriminatory teaching materials and practices.


The biases and prejudices in school textbooks are one of the main reasons for the radicalisation of young people and poor quality of education in Pakistan, said academics and civil society activists at a conference here on Wednesday.

“These are not textbooks as much as propaganda brochures which have closed off our children’s minds,” said Irfan Mufti of South Asia Partnership Pakistan, speaking at the conference on ‘Biases in textbooks and education policy’, organised by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

“Discrimination is a national issue and these discriminatory texts are a constant threat to our society,” he said. “I believe that all the primary schools in our country are factories fuelling extremism in our children.” Peter Jacob of the NCJP said that school textbooks painted non-Muslims as the enemy. “We want our teacher to tell our children that minorities or people from other religions or countries are not our enemies,” he said.

“People here who used to deny that Pakistan was an extremist society no longer deny it after Gojra and the Asia Bibi and Rimsha [blasphemy] cases.” Other speakers said that the best way to counter the extremism was through good teachers and good schools. “Educationists must play their role in changing minds through education. I believe our generation needs values more than anything else,” said Dr Christy Munir, the principal of FC College.

“The only way we can become a progressive nation is to be an educated nation. We know that the only tool we have against extremism is education and if there is no education, there will be no peace,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf, a peace activist.

“There is a huge difference between early and current society. Everyone should respect the changes in society and one should not impose his or her beliefs on others,” said Syed Nisar Safdar, a Supreme Court advocate and social activist.

The speakers said that current education and curriculum policy should be reviewed to remove discriminatory teaching materials and practices. Besides imparting knowledge, textbooks and teachers should focus on teaching students universal humanity and responsible citizenship. Religious education should be removed from public schools, or at least minority students should get an equal opportunity to study their own religion. And the role of religious minorities in the creation and development of Pakistan should be incorporated in the syllabus, the speakers said.

Around 100 people attended the event at Ambassador Hotel.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2013.


doublenickel | 10 years ago | Reply

@Someone: This would be hilarious if it weren't so sad. If given the opportunity, probably three quarters of the population would leave. I've met young people so desperate to leave Pakistan they spend all their waking moments planning and dreaming. Sure, why not leave if you don't like it?! Yeah, right.

Amna | 10 years ago | Reply

I have studied from government textbooks as well as oxford textbooks I didn't read any element of extremism being poured on children. Mr Yousuf should provide reference with books where he found offensive material against other religion. I have never read anything against Christianity or Hinduism. Yes we do have some stories in Urdu books that are too fiction like I don't remember the topic but Mehmood Ghaznavi looted a mander and his heroic act was elaborated in URDU book that is fiction for me who cares? I didn't take it seriously against Hindus as a student especially in Pakistan we study to get good marks only we don't get into facts like O-level students we rattofy hence no negative thoughts are developed in our minds all these mini war stories or whatever pope thought is spreading extremism vanishes from students mind as soon as they are admitted to next class. Who cares really I don't even remember what I studied in Matric or Inter lol

If Mr yousuf is talking about Madarsa extremism yes I am totally against it 75% molvi's are hate mongers government should ban madrasas that are unregistered and open at every nook and corner. Only registered molvis approved from highest religious authority shall preach.

Government should also ban any molvi coming from Afghanistan anywhere in Pakistan. I am sick of Afghan lead extremism in Pakistan. We have given them land to live since 30 years but they can never become our friends more interested in the Indian side pleasing them why not we send all Muhajireen to India they can welfare them as most Indians are talking about welfare? ah I am getting off topic now. Bye!

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