Sticking to his party’s stance on revisions made to the academic curriculum, Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan termed the changes “unacceptable” when the contentious issue was raised in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday.
JUI-F lawmaker from Hangu Mufti Syed Janan raised the matter on an adjournment motion stating the government previously said on the assembly floor that no changes were being made to the curriculum. “On one hand the government makes a promise but on the other it goes against it,” said Janan.
Senior minister Inayatullah Khan who belongs to the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said some of the changes made to the school curriculum during the previous government’s tenure were not only objectionable but also unacceptable.
“Quranic verses related to Physics, Biology and Chemistry were removed from the subject books, while lessons on Muslim scientists were also removed,” said Inayatullah.
According to the minister, a lesson on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was replaced with one on Helen Keller and Kashmir was also shown as a part of India in a grade two textbook.
“These books were written between 2009 and 2012 but our school curriculum should reflect the country’s culture,” maintained Inayatullah.
Minister for Education Atif Khan assured lawmakers the government would not allow any academic material against the religion, history and ideology of Pakistan to remain in the syllabus.
“Curriculum has become the subject of a heated debate wherein everyone talks of removing some chapters and including others. Changes made to some books is not akin to changing the entire curriculum,” said the minister.
Atif insisted the PTI government has not made any changes to the school curriculum and has no plans to do so in the future. Clarifying that he was not blaming any political party for the revisions, Atif said the national curriculum was formulated in 2006 when education was under the federal government and books have been printed in line with it since then.
Atif insisted the PTI government has not made any changes to the school curriculum and has no plans to do so in the future. However, ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak cautioned against ‘solo flight’ on this subject stating that exploiting the name of religion for political interests is unjustifiable.
“If the government wants to makes changes to school books, it should take parliamentary leaders, civil society, government departments and experts on board instead of PTI and JI settling the issue among themselves,” said Babak.
According to Babak, nothing was removed when the changes were made under the ANP government. “Quranic verses were categorised and adjusted keeping in view the age of the students, while local heroes including Bacha Khan were added.” Babak also cautioned the government against politicising the school curriculum.
The house unanimously passed a resolution, moved by JI’s Muhammad Ali, calling upon the federal government to push the US and UN to secure the release of Dr Afia. Another resolution calling for making the procedure of identity card renewal easier was also passed. The resolution was moved by PTI lawmaker Shaukat Yousafzai.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2014.