Role of Pakistan Minorities Teachers Association in education reforms in Pakistan. By Professor Anjum James Paul

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I am sharing with you role of Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association in education reforms in Pakistan. We are thankful to all individuals and organizations that have supported our cause for a better Pakistan. We believe that peaceful coexistence in Pakistan can only be promoted if biases and extremism is removed from the textbooks. Let us all be united to make Pakistan a role model state in the comity of nations by removing all sorts of biases from the textbooks and educational institutions on the bases of religion, caste of colour.
11 Research based documents on the Pakistani textbooks, Curriculum prepared during 2007-2015 and role of Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association in education reforms in Pakistan in 2015 are available in soft and hard shape.
Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association
Pakistan Minorities Teachers‟ Association (PMTA) was founded on August 28, 2004 with a mission statement to make Pakistan a state where people will not be judged by their faiths but by the content of equality.
The Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan in his presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 said, “We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
OBJECTIVES:
• To make effort for the formulation of National Education Policy, curriculum and textbooks in accordance with Article 20 (a), Article 22 (1) and Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. To make effort to promote national integrity and cohesion through textbooks.
• To make effort to remove all sorts of hate based material leading to extremism from the textbooks.
• To make effort to include more topics like human dignity, human rights, peaceful coexistence, social harmony, social justice and interfaith harmony in the textbooks.
• To make effort to include the role Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and the other minorities and their associations played with Muslims for the creation of Pakistan under the same topic to bring the minorities out of sense of segregation.
• To make effort for equal fundamental constitutional rights of the minority students as guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan 1973 which are being deliberately violated through National Education Policy 2009, National Curriculum 2006-2007 and textbooks and opting double standards. Depriving only the minority students from religious education and teaching only one religion in different various subjects and grades is an open violation of the constitution.
• To make effort to promote healthy and friendly environment in the educational institutions where students of all faiths be treated and respected equally.
• To make effort for the 20 privileged marks for the minority students as it is in the case of Muslim students who memorize the Holy Quran by heart.
• To make effort for the denationalization of all the missionary educational institutions.
RESERVATIONS
The Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan in his presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 said, “We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
Article 20 (a) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 guarantees, “every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion;” Article 22 (1) clearly guarantees, “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.” Article 25 (1) guarantees “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.”
Present National Education Policy 2009, National Curriculum 2006-2007 and textbooks have not only violated Article 20 (a), Article 22 (1) and Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan but also Article 26 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2 and Article 14 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 5 of the Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The students studying the textbooks that violate the fundamental human rights, constitution of Pakistan, International Conventions and Declarations can be a hindrance for the promotion of the culture of social harmony and peaceful coexistence.
Religious minorities in Pakistan are insecure due to textbooks. There is desecration of their Holy Books, places of worship and religious practices. They have to face social, economic, religious and political discrimination and persecution. They are persuaded and forced to convert their religion. In failure their minor girls and married women are abducted. They are raped and forcibly converted threatening of their lives. Minor girls and women are not even safe in Dar-ul-Amaan (A place of safety). The scene of death is presented before oppressed ones and they are forced to describe the statement according to the will of the oppressor. It is a tragedy that the courts are failed to provide them justice due to the social pressure.
There is discrimination with them in the jobs. Employees recruited as sanitary workers, mostly do not perform their duties and the minority employees are over burdened to work for the employees of the majority religion because they are not made for that work. There is discrimination with them on the political basis. Establishment of minority wings has sidelined the minority politicians. Every political party treats with the minority wings like a step mother. Selected members of the parliament from the minorities do not have status like the elected members and ministry is taken back from the minority minister with a single threat. Minorities have to go through discrimination on the economic basis as well. They are unable to sell their food items to the majority community but majority community can sell all sorts of items to the minorities. If someone wants to improve one‟s economic conditions then one has to face discriminatory laws that put him behind the bars.
Their residences and colonies are burnt to ashes with dynamites. They are burnt alive with their family members and even burnt alive in brick kilns. Shanti Nagar, Sangla Hill, Bahmniwala, Korian, Gojra and Joseph Colony have been destroyed with dynamites after looting. There has been desecration and burning of the Holy Bible, Geeta, Guru Granth Sahib, Churches and Mandirs as well. Such incidents are the violation of Article 20 of the constitution of Pakistan. Pakistani textbooks are playing main role what is happening against the religious minorities.
Pakistan Minorities Teachers‟ Association has 11 research based documents on the National Curriculum and textbooks published by National Book Foundation Islamabad, Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, Sindh Textbook Board Jamshoro, Balochistan Textbook Board Quetta and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board Peshawar from 2007-2015.
Research identifies that present textbooks are biased and discriminatory as they promote Islamic identity to Pakistan, present Pakistan as a state of only Muslims, divide Pakistani nation on the basis of religion, create complex of majority and minority, present Quaid-e-Azam as a leader of only Muslims, compare among religions, let down the Holy Books of religious minorities, promote the sense to desecrate worship places, let down the minority religions, wrongly Interfere in the religious beliefs of minority religions , provoke religious violence, Instigate students to Muslim -Christian violence, Instigate students to Muslim- Hindu violence. These textbooks are biased against Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Parsis and many the other cultures and civilizations. These textbooks promote discrimination among the majority and minority students. There is desecration of the religious and other personalities of the minorities.
Subject of Ethics has been declared for the minority students. A few textbooks on this subject are available in the market. Pakistan Minorities Teachers‟ Association (PMTA) is demanding from day one that the subject of Ethics only for the minority students is the violation of Article 20 (a) and Article 22 (1) and Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to all citizens as it guarantees “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.” Depriving only the minority students from their own religious education is open violation of the constitution.
Article 22 (1) clearly guarantees, “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.” It is so sad that Pakistani textbooks are openly violating this Article of the constitution but no action is being taken against those who are deliberately violating the constitution.
ACHIEVEMENTS
1. National Education Policy 2009, National Curriculum 2006-2007 and textbooks which are biased and contrary to the constitution are being reviewed.
2. There has been some improvement in the present National Curriculum 2006-2007. Topics on human rights, peace, tolerance, co-existence, patience and service to humanity have been included in the subjects of social sciences.
3. National Book Foundation Islamabad (NBF) and Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore (PCTB) have included „Role of minorities in the creation of Pakistan‟ in the textbook of History VIII, NBF included the material in 2014 while PCTB in the experimental edition in April 2015. On the request of PCTB Chairman PMTA Prof. Anjum James Paul produced the material for the textbook. The material particularly highlights the role of minorities in the Lahore Resolution, Boundary Commission and the division of Punjab. Names of the prominent Christian, Hindu, Schedule Caste, Sikh and Parsi personalities and organizations have been included in the textbook.
4. Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore (PCTB) has included „Role of minorities in Pakistan‟ in the textbook of Pakistan Studies (Compulsory) for grade 10. The speech of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he delivered on August 11, 1947 in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan along with an interview on minorities has been included in detail. Role of prominent minority personalities in different fields has also been included.
Balochistan Textbook Board Quetta has also included the same topic in the textbook of Pakistan Studies 10 in 2015.
PCTB has requested PMTA to improve the present material on the topic of „Role of minorities in Pakistan‟ for the next edition.
5. PMTA has 11 research based documents on the National Curriculum and textbooks published by National Book Foundation Islamabad, Punjab Textbook Board Lahore, Sindh Textbook Board Jamshoro, Balochistan Textbook Board Quetta and Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board Peshawar. The research has identified violation of Article 20 (a), Article 22 (1) and Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan and there are suggestions to exclude hate material that promotes extremism.
6. There had been somehow representation of the minority educationists in the development of the National Curriculum 2007 in the subject of Ethics.
7. Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Parsi educationists have been the members of the Provincial Review Committees, Textbook Review Committees and Subject Wise Technical Evaluation Committees of the Punjab Curriculum Authority.
8. In the National Action Plan 20 points agenda presented by the Prime Minister on December 24, 2014 it is said that „the material promoting hate and extremism will be considered crime under Anti-Terrorism Act and strict action would be taken against the printers and publishers who will publish such material‟ and „effective steps would be taken to stop religious persecution.‟
9. The matter has been taken up for the removal of biases from the textbooks in the National Commission on the Status of Minorities and on the floor of the National Assembly of Pakistan.
10. Subject of Arabic has been declared as an optional subject.
11. Word “Masih”, “Masihi” or “Masihyiat” is being used now in most of the textbooks and in the electronic and print media instead of “Esa”, “Esai” or “Esayiat” for “Jesus Christ”, “Christian/s” or “Christianity”.
12. On the request of PMTA, Vice Chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad exempted Christian students from the MA/ M.Ed workshop throughout Pakistan on the occasion of Easter on April, 12, 2009.
13. Non-Muslim educators of the government of Punjab were exempted of compulsory training of Qirat (recitation) of Holy Quran on August 12, 2009.
14. Mr. Muhammad Latif Khosa, former Governor of Punjab, being the chancellor of the universities of Punjab directed all the Vice Chancellors of the Public Sector Universities to provide the facility of drinking water in the universities examinations centres during the month of Ramadan on August 4, 2012.
15. Arrangements were made by the Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education Lahore to conduct special examinations on the demand of PMTA for the victimized students of 9th and 10th grade of Joseph Colony Lahore whose houses were burnt on March 9, 2013.
16. On the telephonic request of Professor Anjum James Paul, Chairman PMTA, the authorities of Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad relaxed Christian students in the MA workshop on Good Friday and Easter on March 31, 2013.
17. Academic staff from the religious minorities has been somehow invited as paper setter.
18. There has been allocation of 5 percent quota for the minorities in the federal and provincial jobs. Besides this there is recruitment on almost all levels.
19. There has been denationalization of many missionary educational institutions in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh.
20. Biased message of the former President of Pakistan General (R) Pervez Musharraf has been totally removed from all the textbooks in which he had invited the attention of only Muslim students to acquire knowledge as he said, “The progress and development of a country depends on the quality of education of its people. It is a historical fact that the Muslims ruled the world for hundred of years on the basis of the knowledge acquired by their intellectuals, philosophers and scientists .The books written by them were of such a high standard that they served as reference books in the western universities for centuries. As long as the Muslims acted upon the Hadith, "to acquire knowledge is the duty of each Muslim male and female.” they ruled the world. Reference English Step 5, Code No. XLIV/AD, Edition 1st, Impression 19th.This message was on each and every textbook.
21. Biased part of the appeal of the former Chairman Punjab Textbook Board, Lahore has been removed “Punjab Textbook Board is your own organization and has the mandate of providing high quality but less expensive books, with the approval of Federal Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan in accordance with national curricula. These books project Islamic values, defend ideological boundaries of the country and help acquaintance with other fields of life.” Reference. English Step 5, Code No. XLIV/AD, Edition Ist, Impression 19th. This appeal has been published on each and every book published by the Textbook Board, Lahore.
22. There have been meetings with the authorities of all the Textbook Boards of Pakistan, National Book Foundation Islamabad and the civil society. These meetings have been a ray of hope

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