Chapter on Islamic education dropped from PAKISTAN new education policy

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    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    By By Ansar Abbasi

    ISLAMABAD: The government has omitted the whole chapter of Islamic education and other Islamic provisions from the draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2009, awaiting the cabinetís approval for implementation.

    The draft policy was to be considered by the federal cabinet in its Wednesday’s meeting but the prime minister decided to take it up for consideration and approval in its next cabinet as most of the ministers had not read the draft policy.

    Comparison between the National Education Policy 1999 and the draft NEP 2009, which would be implemented for another decade, shows that the Chapter III of the 1999 policy that was precisely dedicated for ìIslamic educationî is simply excluded from the draft 2009 policy.

    Besides, some Islamic provisions included in the 1999 policyís Chapter II of ìAims and Objectivesî have also been excluded. The draft policy 2009, also available on the official website of the Ministry of Education, merely includes one Islamic provision in its Chapter II — Overarching Challenges and Responses — which reads as: “The National Education Policy recognises the importance of Islamic values and adheres to the agreed principles in this regard. All policy interventions shall fall within the parameters identified in the Principles of Policy as laid down in Articles 29, 30, 33, 36, 37 and 40 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. These include the need for Muslim children to be provided instructions in Islamiyat to enable them to develop themselves as good Muslims. Similarly, minorities should be provided with facilities to get education of their own religion.”

    The provisions of Chapter II Aims and Objectives of the NEP 1999, which did not make a part of the draft NEP 2009, include: “The state shall endeavour: i) To make the teachings of the Holy Qur’aan and Islamiat compulsory; ii) to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language; iii) to secure correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Qur’aan; iv) to promote unity and the observance of the Islamic moral standards.”

    The top amongst the NEP 1999 objectives missing from the NEP 2009 is: “To make the Qur’aanic principles and Islamic practices as an integral part of curricula so that the message of the Holy Qur’aan could be disseminated in the process of education as well as training. To educate and train future generation of Pakistan as true practising Muslims, who would be able to enter the next millennium with courage, confidence, wisdom and tolerance.”

    The Chapter III of the NEP 1999, which is completely missing from the draft NEP 2009, was dedicated to Islamic education. It conveys that Pakistan is an Islamic ideological state so the education policy of the country should secure Islamic ideology, Qur’aanic teachings, teachings and Sunnah of Prophet (SAWS) and be spread. The 1999 policy comprises at least 45 provisions, which discuss in detail how to educate the Muslims of Pakistan so that they could become practising Muslims and could live their lives in line with Qur’aan and Sunnah. It also said that Pakistan is not a secular state so its education system must be focused in line with the teachings of Islam.

    The same chapter, now deleted from the draft NEP 2009, also reflected on how the students would be imparted the Qur’aanic education and also suggested a strategy for this. However, most parts of the Chapter II of the NEP 1999 remained unimplemented because of the October 1999 Martial Law of General Musharraf, who had introduced his own philosophy of “Enlightened Moderation” and did not let the implementation of the 1999 policy.

    Education Ministry spokesman said the main work on the draft NEP 2009 was done during General Musharrafís tenure while in the present regime it was once discussed by the federal and provincial education ministers, excluding Punjab, which did have an education minister. The spokesman said that none of the provinces had objected to the exclusion of the Islamic provisions and a complete chapter on Islamic education from the existing NEP 1999.

    The spokesman dispelled the impression that this exclusion would have been done owing to some foreign pressures. He added that the Islamiat and other Islamic education was part of our curriculum so it did not matter if it was not reflected in detail and as such in the policy.

    During Musharrafís tenure, even the Islamic part of curriculum was greatly changed that led to controversies and protests. It was said that besides removing Qur’aanic reference about Jehad, Islamic teaching about freedom, biographies of Islamic heroes and ideology of Pakistan were removed from the syllabi of different education boards by the ousted dictator to please Washington.

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