The Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has informed the Supreme Court that its curriculum wing is developing a course material that incorporates the standpoint of minorities to promote religious harmony and tolerance in society.
Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mahmood submitted a report on behalf of CADD regarding the implementation of the court’s June 18 verdict on the protection of minorities’ rights.
Through the judgment, the Supreme Court had instructed federal and provincial governments to develop appropriate curricula at school and college levels to promote religious tolerance in the country. It has also asked the authorities to take appropriate steps to ensure that hate speeches in social media were discouraged and the delinquents were brought to justice.
The CADD’s report says that a curriculum titled “National Curriculum for Human Rights Education” has been developed for elementary and secondary levels besides developing five training modules for training and orientation of teachers to promote religious and social tolerance, interfaith harmony, peace education and rights of minorities.
“In the new schemes of studies, a provision has been made to teach minority students ethics courses from third grade to seventh grade. The curriculum has accordingly been prepared and textbooks are being developed,” says the report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
The report further says that a “general knowledge” component has been introduced for classes one through three, which contains information about minorities’ festivals and celebrations, among other things.
“To ensure interfaith harmony and peace, and to minimise religious discrimination in school education, guidelines for teachers have also been included in the textbooks relating to the religious teachings and values of other religions.”
The report states that the concepts of religious and social tolerance, religious freedom, interfaith harmony and peace education have been integrated and infused in various subjects across curricula from early childhood education (ECE) to higher secondary school level.
It further says that the CADD will also incorporate themes of religious and social tolerance more rigorously as and when the current curricula is revised, besides making themes of religious and social tolerance part of teacher training.
“CADD is also considering introducing a separate elective “interfaith harmony” subject at intermediate level for humanities group,” says the report, adding that the capital administration was considering developing guidelines for the teachers, who were teaching Islamic studies or ethics, social studies, history, civics, Pakistan studies and language subjects to promote religious, social and interfaith harmony and ensure the rights of minorities.
The DAG also submitted a report prepared by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Harmony and the Establishment Division. The ministry report was also submitted to the prime minister, in compliance with the court’s order, has approved the reconstitution of the National Commission for Minorities. The commission held its first meeting on November 13.
Under the terms of reference, the commission will develop a national policy on interfaith harmony to explore avenues for peace and security, consider laws, executive institutions, procedural practices of government or government agencies, autonomous and semiautonomous bodies and agencies which are reported to be discriminatory towards the minorities, recommend steps to ensure fuller participation by members of minorities in all aspects of national life, ensure their participation and association with their religious and cultural celebrations, look into their grievances and address those grievances, among other things.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2014.