05/26/2015, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Punjab school textbooks that incite hatred against minorities should be reviewed, says NCJP

by Shafique Khokhar
The National Commission for Justice and Peace (MCJP) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan has surveyed many textbooks used in Punjab provincial schools. In order to stop religious extremism and promote peace, schools must be the starting point.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - "Non-Muslims have always opposed Muslims and often cooperated with each other to harm them” says a chapter on the United Nations in a social science textbook for grade five students in the province of Punjab.

For the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, Pakistani textbooks are full of such references that "inculcate hatred” against minorities. In order to stop religious extremism and promote peace, it has called for their removal.

The Catholic organisation arrived at this conclusion after a major survey of textbooks used in provincial public schools. Its findings were presented at a conference on 19 May in Lahore on ‘Uprooting Religious Intolerance through Formal Educational System in Pakistan’, an even that drew many intellectuals, educators and human rights activists.

"Teaching hatred or harm to students is illegal,” said Peter Jacob, executive director of the Centre for Social Justice. Yet, “There are no checks on independent publishers and the material they publish. Either the government carefully monitors these publishers or it bans some of the textbooks they publish.”

Examples of such biased textbooks are plenty. In one book for students in the first two years of high school says, we can read, “Capitalist and democratic countries like Europe and USA have based their educational objectives on a concept of person getting attuned with society, capable of self-earning. Their teachings are favourable to capitalism and the philosophy of western democracy”.

For Qamar-ul-Islam Raja, chairman of the Standing Committee for Education in Punjab, "Religious intolerance is an international phenomenon.”

Nevertheless, “The curriculum needs to be reviewed. The authorities should supervise private publishers and punish those that publish books that contain hatred".

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