PESHAWAR: Members of various religious minority groups inhabiting the province have asked the government for the right to decide the curriculum they should be taught in schools.
At a seminar organised by the South Asian Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) on Monday, representatives of religious minorities raised concerns over target killings, forced conversions and school curriculum. Members of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly and social activists also participated in the event organised to discuss the issues minorities face regarding the academic curriculum in the province.
“Non-Muslim students should be given the option to decide if they want to study Islamiat or Civics instead of it,” said Sikh elder Rabinder Singh Tony. He demanded that Deenyat, a subject part of the curriculum before 1970, be included in the curriculum again.
Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Kalasha and other religious groups should have their own elected representatives in provincial and national assemblies, said Tony.
MPA from Chitral Sardar Hussain said the Kalasha have never been given any representation in any legislative assembly and their issues have never been raised.
“The Kalasha have a unique culture and have been living in Chitral for centuries, yet their voices are not heard in the assemblies,” said Hussain. He added the people of the district are living in abject poverty without basic infrastructure, health and educational facilities.
All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement Chairman Haroon Sarbdiyal said education moulds minds and people of all faiths should be given the right to decide what they want to study at school.
He also demanded that the job quota for minorities should be increased from 3% to 5%.
In his speech, PTI MPA Shaukat Yousafzai promised non-Muslims will have equal rights in the province. He added the government would support any issue raised by any party in favour of religious minorities in the assembly.
However, JUI-F’s provincial spokesperson Maulana Jalil Jan said aside from studying other subjects, minorities should also learn about Islam. He argued minorities should study the same subjects all students are learning.
Members of minority groups later lauded the K-P Communal Properties of Minorities Act 2014 which has been presented by the government in the ongoing assembly session. They also urged lawmakers to enact the law immediately.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2014.