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Reservations of religio-political parties: Govt in a fix over new Islamiat textbooks

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The gradual implementation of the new curricula in the government schools of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be completed within a few months, however, the new textbooks of Islamiat for various classes are yet to be introduced owing to reservations of religio-political parties over the changes regarding some verses on jihad.

Sources said that provincial government was in a fix over taking a decision about teaching of the new textbook of Islamiat, having some changes regarding jihad (holy war), to the students of state-run schools.
Officials said that gradual implementation of the new curricula commenced in the academic year 2011-12 so the entire curricula would change at the start of the coming academic year.

Although the new textbooks of Islamiat for four classes from grade-9 to grade-12 had more topics on Islam as compared to the old ones, which were currently taught in the schools, yet the government was reluctant to take a bold step to introduce the new books in educational institutions, officials said.
The new textbooks of Islamiat were compiled three years ago but the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led provincial government, like its predecessor, has failed to sustain the pressure of the religious parties, particularly Jamaat-i-Islami, which were strongly opposing teaching of the new books in schools.

The authorities in elementary and secondary education department and its subordinate bodies like Directorate of Curricula and Teachers Education, Abbottabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board, Peshawar have repeatedly clarified that verses about jihad were not excluded from the news textbooks of Islamiat.

They are of the view that the verses on jihad in the old textbooks of Islamiat for grade-9 and 10 have been included in the new textbooks of Islamiat for grade-11 and 12.

Officials said that besides other topics and chapters, the old textbooks had a chapter on Sura Anfal and another on Sura Ahzab of the Holy Quran. Under the new curricula, chapter Anfal was excluded from textbooks for grade-9 and 10 and included in the textbooks for grade-11 and 12, they said.

Officials said that the educationists involved in preparing the new curricula had in mind the phenomenon of militancy in the region that was why they preferred to teach verses on jihad to the students of intermediate level because the students of grade-9 and 10 were too young to understand the actual meaning of jihad.

Provincial Minister for Education Mohammad Atif Khan, when contacted, said that textbooks of Islamiat were changed when the entire curriculum was changed.

The education department had tried at that time to introduce the new textbooks of Islamiat but the decision was withheld after reservations were raised by of certain quarters, he said.

“We will take a decision in this regard very soon,” the minister said. He said that the provincial government did not want to take any step that could cause disturbance in the society. “We do not want to hurt the feelings of people,” he added.

Mr Khan said that the issue needed to be handled tactfully. Actually local newspapers were responsible for provoking people by reporting that the subject of jihad was excluded from the textbooks of Islamiat for grade-9 and 10, he said.

There would have been no such issue if media had reported that the same chapters were included in the textbooks of Islamiat for grade-11 and 12, the minister said.

Published in Dawn

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