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    » 02/25/2011, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Provincial govt to review programmes in Islamic religious schools



    Madrassa are teaching almost exclusively Qur‘anic subjects. The government wants to add Arabic, English, math and computers, but is meeting with the opposition of many religious leaders. Millions of students cannot pay fees at public schools and so can only attend these schools.
     Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The government has ordered religious schools (madrassas) to offer students a basic education that includes subjects like math, English and computers. However, many school officials are resisting, saying the only thing students need is the Qur‘an.

    Madrassas are a fundamental component of Pakistan’s education system. A report by Provincial education authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (ex North-West Frontier Province) said there were 10,887 registered religious schools with an estimated two million students in 2010, up from 201 in 1947.

    About 85 per cent of these schools cater to students from Sunni sects while the rest serve Shias. What is more, only 25 per cent of the religious schools have sought registration. In addition, most of the almost 4,000 male and 900 female teachers in the province are graduates of religious schools.

    “Most of these teachers are unable to teach properly. They don’t have modern education. The government wants to support them financially and technically but they don’t want” that, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Minister Sardar Hussain Babak.

    The government wants to integrate religious education with formal education and bridge the gulf between the two systems, but madrassa officials see it as government interference.

    “About 99 per cent of the students belong to poor families who could not afford the cost of modern or government-run schools and opted to get themselves enrolled in religious schools where no fee is charged," Babak said.

    “Religious schools are very good because they teach you the true meaning of Islam. But religious schools must teach modern education, such as computer, mathematics, English etc.," said Muhammad Asif, a teacher at the Uma Hatul Momineen Madrassa. He noted that most students at these schools illiterate.

    Madrassas have been accused of promoting terrorism, providing an extremist education, and serving as recruiting grounds for radical groups. On several occasions, the United States has called on Pakistani authorities to control these institutions and add modern subjects.

    The heads of religious schools vehemently deny charges they are producing militants. “More than 4,500 students study in our school," said Maulana Samiul Haq, chancellor of Darul Uloom Haqqania, the biggest religious seminary in Pakistan. "All of them are peaceful and apolitical. They had taken part in the fight against Mujahedeen leaders just to safeguard Afghanistan against the bitterly divided and corrupt Mujahedeen government in Kabul."

    Minister Babak insisted that under the proposed plan to modernise education traditional subjects would remain, like Nazirah-e- Qur‘an (Qur‘an recitation), Tahfeez-ul-Qur‘an (Qur‘an memorisation), Tajweed (correct pronunciation), darse-e-nizami (the standard syllabus of a religious seminary), tafseer (Qur‘anic analysis and interpretation), hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), and Fiqah (Islamic jurisprudence).

    However, programmes would also include Arabic literature, Urdu, English, science, math, computers and information-technology, as well as vocational training.

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    See also

    04/08/2007 PAKISTAN
    A new edition of the Bible in Urdu
    The text, in an improved user-friendly version, was introduced across the country in a series of religious events. The Church in Pakistan celebrated the publication, inviting the faithful to “welcome the Word of God, into their hearts and homes”.

    29/01/2007 PAKISTAN
    Church says no to bias and compulsory Islamic studies in schools
    Bishops’ Conference president writes to education minister saying that curriculum reform should counter religious extremism, eliminate compulsory Islamic studies and consult minorities.

    29/12/2005 PAKISTAN
    Madrassas refuse to expel foreign students

    The decision, taken by the president in the wake of the London bomb attacks, should be carried out by the end of December. There may be an extension but the government is determined to push ahead.



    16/03/2011 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Christians convert to Islam because of threats and intimidations
    This is the rate is 60 per month. In one madrassa in Lahore alone, 678 Christians embraced Islam in 2009. Last year they were almost 700. These are “dangerous days” minorities, activists say as the blasphemy law is used to force them to change religion.

    30/03/2007 PAKISTAN
    “Taleban” violence spreads to Islamabad
    Three women captured by female students of a madrassah were freed today, one of them forced to “immoral behaviour”. There is increased concern that the entire country may become prey to a form of Taleban violence. The president of Pakistan Minorities Alliance tells AsiaNews: “It is wrong to leave justice in the hands of small groups and not in the hands of the law”.



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