KARACHI: While the Pakistani government was not even considering to include Malala Yousafzai’s book in the national curriculum and school libraries, a Lahore-based school federation’s statement about ‘banning the book in all private schools’ was declared ‘uncalled for’ by other private school associations across the country.
The statement issued by the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation President Mirza Kashif Ali that the book, titled ‘I am Malala’, will be banned completely due to its ‘controversial’ contents in all private schools has received wide attention, making headlines across the world.
“This appears to be a publicity stunt when the federation represents only a couple of thousand schools, located chiefly in Lahore,” said Adeeb Javadani, the central president of All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association (APPSMA), which has been functioning since 1982 with over 40,000 registered schools in all four provinces. “The government does not plan to teach Malala’s book in state and private schools, nor does it ask the schools to make it part of their libraries.”
He added that the book was meant for the Western audience and did not receive much appreciation in Pakistan – a fact that had already decided its fate. “But issuing polemical statements will only cause an issue out of a non-issue,” said Javadani.
Sharfuz Zaman, the Private Schools Management Association’s Sindh president, agreed. “I don’t even know about the federation and its president but he has achieved his purpose. He issued an uncalled for statement that has brought him into the limelight.”
The school associations can only prescribe for banning those books from the libraries which are restricted as such by the government of Pakistan, said Syed Khalid Shah, the chairperson of National Education Council, which is considered as the largest educational platform to represent the private educational institutions across the country. “In case of Malala’s book, there is no such restriction imposed by the government and it is a school’s prerogative of whether they decide to keep it or not.”
Meanwhile, Punjab Textbook Board Chairman Nawazish Ali told The Express Tribune that the book carries no relevance as far as the national curriculum is concerned. “We have a set of defined subjects for which the board selects the most appropriate books to be taught at the schools. The book written by Malala, however, is out of consideration.”
Mirza Kashif Ali, when approached by The Express Tribune clarified that his federation did not issue the statement on behalf of all private schools across the country but it was wrongly construed by the media. He added, however, that the decision will be followed by over 152,000 affiliated schools with the federation, out of which 80,000 are located in Punjab only – a claim that was contested and declared ‘ludicrous’ by other associations.
“This is nonsensical, considering the fact that a national-level association like APPSMA, which has been functioning for last three decades, does not have even 50,000 member schools,” Muhammad Furqan, the association’s central vice president, told The Express Tribune from Rawalpindi.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th,2013.