Lahore (AsiaNews) - School textbooks that promote religious fanaticism, discriminate against minorities and trigger religious conflicts: Pakistani schools are - once again - the object of attention and study of Catholic NCJP activists who, in a detailed report, have examined the basic elements of discrimination of sectarian origins. In the report titled " Fanatic Literacy or Education," the National Commission for Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church invites a rethink of school curricula, so that even Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and those belonging to minorities in Pakistan can deepen the study of their religion. Currently they are obliged to learn the basics of Islam, as practiced in some areas of the country, including Punjab.
The report shows that thousands
of non-Muslim students are "forced" to study Islam and elements of
the Muslim religion, for fear of discrimination. Among
these, the decision taken by the Parliament of Punjab - one of the provinces of
Pakistan - and approved "unanimously" that makes the study of the Koran
non-Muslims "are not offered a viable alternative." At
the same time, even in subjects like social sciences and linguistics about 20%
of the content is linked to Islam. Again:
the non-Muslim students are given the extra bonus of 20 points, reserved to
those who deepen Islamic studies.
AsiaNews has long stressed the importance of education as a factor of redemption and growth for Pakistan, and even devoted a thorough dossier to schooling and education (see, Education can stop the Taliban in Pakistan). Peter Jacob, NCJP executive secretary, explains that "education and educational policy in Pakistan" are among the sectors in which sectarian nature of discrimination and violations of basic human rights clearly emerge. In addition there is a chronic "lack of initiatives" and complications caused by "widespread corruption and inefficiency."
In the study prepared by Christian activists they recall article 20 of the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom, and article 22 that states that " no person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own". However, the school and education system in general seem to "forget" these two fundamental laws of the Charter of the State, while diligently applying Article 31, under which "shall be binding upon the study of Islam and the Koran" so that - add Christian activists - there are no substantial differences between public institutions and the madrassas, or Islamic schools.
Finally, the report says that religions other than Islam are viewed "with contempt and prejudice." Faced with a situation that is becoming increasingly critical, Justice and Peace calls for a substantial change in the educational policy and the opportunity for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and students of other religions to deepen the knowledge of their own faith or, alternatively, have access to ethics and civic education.