Faisalabad: (PCP) Professor Anjum James Paul Chairman of Pakistan Minorities Teachers Association PMTA writes an Open Letter to Administration of Punjab government for equal treatment of freedom of Religion and Belief with religious minority students in education institutions in Punjab.
Here’s copy of letter:
Mr. Ejaz Alam Augustine
Minister for Human Rights & Minority Affairs
Govt. of the Punjab
Subject: REQUEST FOR EQUAL TREATMENT OF FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND BELIEF WITH THE RELIGIOUS MINORITY STUDENTS
Greetings and peace from Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association (PMTA).
PMTA would like to draw your kind attention on the subject cited above.
Sir, PMTA was expecting Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) under article 20 and equality of citizenship that has been guaranteed in the article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 but unfortunately Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board (PCTB) Lahore has deprived religious minority students from their fundamental constitutional right to study the subject of ‘Religion’ they belong. PCTB has only facilitated the Muslim students in the case of FoRB as arrangements have been made for the subject of Islamic Studies since decades.
Sir, PMTA has already requested to honourable Mr. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ref.No.PMTA/35-38/19-KPR, dated: December 31, 2019 on the subject “Request to ensure freedom of religion and belief of the Pakistani religious minority students”. It is hoped that the present government will guarantee equal citizenship, equal rights and equal opportunities according to the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam.
Transition of Scheme of Studies 2017 of the PCTB Lahore into curriculum, textbooks & dissemination of knowledge & skills has focused on Quranic Education with Urdu as well as English translation of the Holy Quran. One of the main aims and objectives of the Scheme of Studies is to promote awareness about National Integration, Patriotism, Islamic Ideology and its impact on socio-economic development and security of the country. (Curriculum for Ethics & Morality, Grades III-XII, Publisher: Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, page 6, 2019)
PMTA has analysis on the matrix and the Student Learning Outcomes for the subject of Ethics & Morality for Grades III – XII 2019. The study reveals that the curriculum in the subject of Ethics & Morality has been prepared under the strict guidelines of the Transition of Scheme of Studies 2017. Eleven units are on six religions which are Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Sikhism. There are six units on Islam while other five religions have one unit each. Islam has become the major religion of the curriculum as there are 54.54 % Islamic teachings while the other five religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Sikhism have 9.09 % each. Teachings on Hinduism are at grade IV in Unit-2: Ethics & morality in Hinduism. Teachings on Buddhism are at grade IV in Unit-3: Ethics & morality in Buddhism. Teachings on Judaism are at grade V in Unit-1: Ethics & morality in Judaism. Teachings on Christianity are at grade VI in Unit-1: Ethics & morality in Christianity. Teachings on Sikhism are at grade VI Unit-3: Ethics & morality in Sikhism. Teachings on Islam are in grade V, VI, VII and grade X. These teachings are at grade V in Unit-2: Prophet Moses (A.S.) as role model of ethics & morality, at grade VI in Unit-2: Jesus Christ (A.S) as role model of ethics & morality, at grade VII in Unit-1: Ethics & morality in Islam, in Unit-2: Holy Prophet (PBUH) as a role model of ethics & morality, in Unit-4: Universal ethical values, Explain the following in the context of Islamic teachings and at grade X in Unit-1: Glimpses of ethical teachings by Holy Prophet. (Curriculum for Ethics & Morality, Grades III-XII, Publisher: Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, page 7-8, 2019)
There are seven specific aims and objectives of devising the progressive, liberal and constructive curriculum of “Ethics & Morality”. Objective 3 is ‘Understand the primacy of religious teachings and their value in social life.’ (Curriculum for Ethics & Morality, Grades III-XII, Publisher: Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, page 4, 2019)
There are twelve Guidelines for Teachers, out of which first three are presented below.
• Adopt an unbiased approach in the teaching of the unit on introduction to religions.
• Keep discussion on Theology to minimum.
• Do not under any circumstances indulge in a comparison of different religions.
(Curriculum for Ethics & Morality, Grades III-XII, Publisher: Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, page 30, 2019)
There are Guidelines for Textbook Writers out of which only one is presented here;
For developing textbooks on Ethical special care needs to be taken while developing sections on ‘Introduction to Religions’, ‘Ethical and Moral Values’ and ‘Personalities’.
Introduction to Religions
• Use the narrative form of story writing.
• Avoid theological details
• Do not use any comparisons between or among religions
(Curriculum for Ethics & Morality, Grades III-XII, Publisher: Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, page 32, 2019)
1. PCTB has adopted a discriminatory and dual policy in the curriculum of Ethics & Morality for grades III-XII for religious minority students which is unconstitutional and an open violation of article 20, article 22 and article 25 of the constitution as there are beliefs of eleven religions. On the other hand, curriculum of Islamic Studies for grade III-XII for Muslims is based only on Islamic beliefs.
2. The discriminatory and biased curriculum of Ethics & Morality will misguide, mislead and confuse the religious minority students from their religious beliefs they follow.
3. The curriculum of Islamic Studies is for the spiritual and social upbringing of Muslim students while the curriculum of Ethics & Morality is only for the social upbringing.
4. The curriculum of Islamic Studies emphasizes on discussion on Theology while the curriculum of Ethics & Morality guides to avoid theological details.
5. The curriculum of Islamic Studies emphasizes on comparison of different religions while the curriculum of Ethics & Morality guides not to use any comparisons between or among religions.
6. Why the contents of minority rights, interfaith harmony, religious festivals of other religions for religious minority students and not for the religious majority students?
1. It is recommended that PCTB must avoid religious discrimination and violation of article 20, article 22 and article 25 of the constitution of Pakistan 1973 in the curriculum and upcoming textbooks.
2. It is recommended that PCTB must immediately ban the present curriculum of Ethics & Morality and to constitute a curriculum committee for the subject of ‘Religion’ for the religious minority students.
3. It is recommended that the subject of ‘Religion’ must be designed under article 22 of the constitution of Pakistan 1973.
4. The subject of ‘Religion’ for the religious minority students must be designed on five chapters with the same contents as it is in the case of Islamic Studies but from the religious beliefs and teachings of that particular religion. This will help the religious minority students for their spiritual growth and to lead their lives according to teachings of their own religion.
With best regards.
PROF. ANJUM JAMES PAUL
1. Minister of Education (School Education) , Govt. of Punjab, Civil Secretariat Lahore
2. Chairman, Punjab Textbook Board, Lahore