02/25/2021, 16.44
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Racist anti-Christian reference removed from Punjab schoolbook

by Shafique Khokhar

The content sparked a social media campaign. In a letter to Pakistan’s prime minister, Prof Anjum wrote that “racism is a crime against humanity and is the enemy of pluralism, peaceful coexistence and social harmony.”


Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Punjab Textbook Board has removed racist content from a Grade II Urdu language book.

Reference to racist content about a character called “Joseph’s black” in a Class II Urdu textbook, published by the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board, had appeared on social media in January, followed by a campaign against it.

Prof Anjum James Paul, National Minority Commission member Albert David, Provincial Minister for Minority Rights and Minority Affairs Ejaz Alam Agostino, and Minority MPA Khalil Tahir Sindhu drew attention of education officials to hate content directed at Punjab’s Christian community. This pushed the concerned authorities to act immediately.

In a letter to the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Prof Anjum wrote that “racism is a crime against humanity and is the enemy of pluralism, peaceful coexistence and social harmony.”

In its foreign policy, Pakistan has always condemned racial discrimination, but unfortunately the problem still persists at home. An example of such racism is found on page 155 (pictured) of a Grade II Urdu textbook. Translated, the offensive sentence says: "Nasir! I brought a sweet dish for your guests. Nasir! Who's is that black boy?"

Dr Abdullah Faisal, director (Manuscript), Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board, told Christian leaders that the aforementioned content, as mentioned in the letter, referred to a dark-skinned character, Joseph, which some people interpreted as being directed at minorities.

He noted that that the Federal Education and Vocational Training Ministry was developing a new textbook for students from Pre-1 to Grade-5 in accordance with the Single National Curriculum (SNC) 2020.

Older textbooks in Punjab were replaced by new textbooks elaborated without any supplemntary reading material.

Speaking to AsiaNews, a Karachi social activist and teacher, Mariyam Kashif, said that she was grateful to all those people who took the issue seriously, highlighted it and reported it to the authorities.

She is also grateful to the authorities and the Punjab Textbook Board for taking the necessary steps to remove racist content in a timely fashion.

For her, children in school are like clay in a potter’s hands: They will learn what teachers teach and what they say. In order to teach children good values, we must present to them what is good, including the values of diversity, brotherhood and peace, so that they can become good citizens.

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