The government on Thursday formed two committees to finalise the much delayed educational reforms for madrassas even as it cracks down on those seminaries who have ties to extremists.
Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Engr Muhammad Balighur Rehman met with Mufti Muneebur Rehman of the umbrella body for seminaries, the Ittehad-e-Tanzeem Wafaqul Madaris on Thursday to resolve the longstanding issue.
They discussed issues pertaining to registration and affiliation of madrassas to educational boards, deliberation upon curriculums, examination systems, syllabi, grading system, qualification of teachers, textbooks and monitoring of education imparted at seminaries. They also deliberated on whether the Inter Board Committee of Chairman (IBCC) should issue equivalence certificates for madrassa graduates for matriculations, intermediate levels and equivalence degrees and certificates for graduation and post-graduation from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
The Joint Education Advisor Rafique Tahir said that two committees were formed in this regard who will present their reports within ten days. One of them will be headed by HEC chairman and the other by the HEC executive director.
Mufti Muhammad Muneebur Rehman, Hanif Jalandhari and Dr Ataur Rahman will be part of both committees to discuss the issue of equivalencies.
The move comes a day after the interior ministry told lawmakers in the National Assembly that they had sealed 102 Islamic seminaries in the country for fanning extremism. Moreover, they had identified 190 madrassas which were receiving funds from abroad.
Little expectation for swift reforms
Even though the government has mandated the committees to complete their work within ten days, former officials and religious leaders have little expectation that the timeline set would be followed.
Vakil Ahmed, a former secretary at the religious affairs ministry said, “Since 2010 practical work on madrassa reforms has been in the doldrums”
“Whenever there is any terrorist attack, the government starts working on reforms from scratch.”
Ahmed, who had also led a government-run board for madrassas, said reforms for seminaries did not headline the government’s list of priorities.
“Since 2010 the meetings to discuss madrassa reforms have only been held for the sake of photo sessions to the world that Pakistan was serious about it,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi of the Ulema Council of Pakistan believes that the root cause for delays in implementing reforms were differences between Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Interior.
“There is a need to work on this from grass root level not by just inviting few people to talk on it to finalise reforms,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2015.