Report on Pakistan's Secondary School Curricula and Textbooks

Textbooks from the hate factory
Karachi, May 03: The portrayal of religious minorities in textbooks prescribed by state-funded textbook boards is a grave indicator of what the country's young people are being taught in terms of tolerance and respect for other religions.

According to a 2007 report titled 'Producing Thinking Minds - A Report on Pakistan's Secondary School Curricula and Textbooks' by Enlightened Pakistan, an organisation founded by several Pakistani university students, there are numerous instances even in the 2006 edition of local textbooks for grades sixth to tenth in which sweeping generalisations have been made against people belonging to religions other than Islam.

Similarly, writings and reports by other researchers such as Pervez Hoodbhoy, Abdul Hameed Nayyar and Tariq Rahman, mention some of the sentences that have been noted in Pakistani textbooks: "Christians have always harmed the Muslims. They did not even stop from killing them. They occupied Muslims lands, looted them and treated them very badly", "The foundation of the Hindu set-up was based on injustice and cruelty", "The non-Muslims, especially the Hindus, did not like Muslims as they looked upon them as usurpers" and even "The Christians took to their traditional tactics of conspiring against the ruler".

Vijay Kumar Khatri, an engineer by profession, recalls the time when he used to study at his school in Dhoronaro village, he did not feel good reading such material in class. Moreover, owing to such textbooks and children's brought up on the part of their parents, "Children were trained to have a negative mindset from a very young age. There was definitely a level of mistrust between Hindu and Muslim students, so much so that Muslim students did not even want to drink from the glass we had used!" said Khatri.

Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS) Director Dr Tariq Rahman said such material tends to bias children in a way that Muslims learn to look down upon other religions, whereas people from other religions develop antipathy towards Muslims. "It is not only legally wrong but also works against democratic values," added Dr Rahman.

According to him, changes in curriculum had already started taking place after the year 1958, but the process sped up after Pakistan's war of 1965 against India. However, textbooks were drastically revised during Gen Ziaul Haq's regime. Explaining what Social Studies book were like prior to 1965, Dr Rahman relates, "When I was at school, I even read about Buddha and Gandhi and the course was not that one-sided. It did not have religious remarks at all. Also, we did not have Islamiat as a subject and what we used to study was a subject called Moral Sciences."

Sarah John, a schoolteacher, opines that more than textbooks, it is the lessons taught to children at home that matter more as to how they behave with people of other religions. Apart from one instance at college where one of her colleagues passed a crude remark at her on the basis of her religion, she said she has not felt discriminated by people as such. However, it is the state, which has probably done the greatest injustice to her and many others in their student lives. Sarah had to study Islamiat all the way from her matriculation up to her BA, because of a prevalent notion that when students attempt an Ethics exam at the board level, they are singled out and given lower marks. The same is the case with Khatri, who had to study Islamiat in SSC and HSC because the teachers did not give detailed guidance on how to attempt an Ethics exam. "Before Matric, all the Hindu students in my class used to sit idle during Islamiat classes and we felt badly left out."

It is also dismal to see that the only substitute for the subject of Islamiat for non-Muslim students is Ethics. "I have sometimes felt that if Muslim students are taught about Islam, I should also be taught the Bible. Even at Kinnaird, which is a Christian college, the only option I had apart from Islamiat was to study Ethics," said Sarah. According to Khatri too, "Either all children should be taught their religions separately or there should be one subject for the whole class that comprehensively deals with all religions of the world."

In 2002, during the rule of Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, some changes were made to the anti-Hindu and anti-Indian content in the Social Studies textbook of grade eighth and Pakistan Studies textbook of grade ninth. Nevertheless, as Dr Rahman mentions, "Apart from textbooks, hatred continues to break into the minds of Pakistanis everyday through some television channels, radio stations, newspapers and informal hate literature too."

Sanobar Nathaniel, a recent graduate, could not have been more realistic about the improvement in Pakistan's textbooks, as she said, "There needs a lot to be improved in our educational system in general, let alone religious issues, but considering the fact that ours is a Muslim majority country, such issues cannot be taken up or be thought to be a worthwhile fight." Daily times

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KU extends dates for submission of applications
Karachi: University of Karachi (KU) has extended the date for submission of applications for the post of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor and Lecturer in various departments. The last date for receipt of applications for the above posts has been extended up to May 20. The last date for receipt of applications in case of Pakistan nationals serving /residing abroad is May 28.

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Business students exhorted to think globally
Karachi: It is pertinent to balance responsibility towards society with business and to always think globally because the corporate world always needs efficient and capable employees. To meet this demand the University of Karachi (KU) plays an important role where it has gained excellence in providing a wide variety of MBA degree courses, post-graduate diplomas, and other management programmes.

The Vice-Chancellor, KU, Prof. Dr. Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, said this while addressing the Annual Corporate Dinner and Launching ceremony of the KUBS Graduate Directory, 2010, organised by the Karachi University Business School the other day at a local hotel.

"Here we prepare a team of young and dynamic businessmen who not only work for their better professional careers but also bring dynamism to the business world of Pakistan," he added.

Pro-Vice Chancellor, KU, Prof. Dr. Shahana Urooj Kazmi and Faculty of Administration and Management Sciences Prof. Dr. Abuzar Wajidi advised students that today organisations in all spheres must compete to deliver value.

The value is the ability to meet or exceed the needs of customers. To do so efficiently, the companies have to deliver value to their customers, and countries have to deliver value as business locations and students graduating from KU should consider their graduation as a new beginning instead of an end.

"Business School is about decisions. How to make, evaluate, market, enact and communicate decisions. It's the decision you make about the future of your business because you can predict the impact of economic conditions" said the Chairman, Karachi University Business School, Dr. A.R. Zaki while delivering the welcome address.

The Director, Karachi University Business School, Dr. Askari, also spoke on the occasion and said that the university had achieved high standards and was providing quality education. "We train our students to create a business which is better, faster, newer, more creative, more innovative, more global and more strategic", he said. On this occasion, the department's graduate directory for the year 2010 titled "Graduate 2010" was launched.

The year was a lucky year for the students of KUBS because the school launched its first-ever official website at this occasion. An open forum was also conducted between students and guests from the corporate sector.

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Sindh Education Reform Programme
Karachi: The government of Sindh has claimed to have made a "steady progress" in meeting the conditionalities of the World Bank (WB) and the European Union (EU), which are providing financial support to it under the Sindh Education Reform Programme (SERP).

These conditions pertained to promoting low-cost private schools in rural Sindh, recruitment of teachers on merit-and-need basis, delivery of stipends to girls, school rehabilitation, strengthening of school management committees' (SMCs), distribution of free text books, teachers education development, financial accountability and learning assessment of students etc.

This has been revealed in a report prepared by the Sindh Education and Literacy Department, and which was submitted to the joint EU-WB review mission during their visit to Sindh recently.

It has been stated in the report that during the first round, around 200 low-cost private schools were established in 10 districts of Sindh under the programme by the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF). During the second round (current), about 100 additional schools would be established while 500 more private schools would be selected in the next year, according to the report whose copy is available with The News.

According to the report, appointment orders are being issued in all districts for higher school teacher (HST) and junior school teacher (JST) candidates as per the merit list.

The recruitment process for the primary school teacher (PST) has also been initiated in districts and the whole recruitment process of over 7,000 candidates is expected to be completed soon.

The WB has agreed to enhance the vacancies (against the existing SNE and advertised posts). Consultation with the third party engaged by the WB has been initiated as per the requirement of the WB to validate implementation of prescribed guidelines and transparency in recruitment.

About girls' stipends, the report said that Rs1 billion has been fully released to Pakistan Post Office (PPO) Karachi for onward distribution of the stipend money to girls from class VI to X in 23 districts. Around 366,476 girls will benefit in the year 2009-10 under the programme.

The process of complaints started from April 1, 2010.

An amount of Rs100 million (Rs80-110 million per district) was released to all districts for rehabilitation of school buildings. Around 20 districts out of 23 districts have commenced civil works under the technical oversight and supervision of a "third party engineering firm".

It has been stated that around Rs678.78 million has been released for about 25,354 SMCs all over the province. According tot he report, data of 2,916 schools amounting Rs721million has been sent to the finance department through the education department.

The report claimed that text books have been printed and are being distributed free of cost at schools all over Sindh.

About the financial accountability in education sector expenditures, the report stated that 60 per cent outstanding audit paras have been resolved at provincial and district levels. "Efforts are being made to resolve certification issues as per the WB guidelines."

In order to ensure increased effectiveness of public expenditures in government departments including education, the Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (SPPRA) Act was passed by the Sindh Assembly in 2009. Procurement rules were revised and notified on March 8, 2010. A draft "standard bidding documents" (SBDs) has been prepared and circulated for feedback. The SPPRA is expected to finalise the documents before June 2010.

The report said that the WB's condition of annual school census (ASC) was met by completing the 19th ASC within four months time line.

As a pilot project, three districts have been selected under the "education management reforms", while "provincial education assessment centre" (PEAC) has been approved by the chief secretary Sindh to initiate learning assessment of students.

According to the report, under the PEACe, grade-IV language test was conducted in schools on March 11-12 and analysis work on grade-IV mathematics test of over 40,000 students was completed. According to the report, an "advisory board" has also been created to initiate teacher education development reforms in the province.

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Reforms plan renegotiated
Karachi: The Sindh Education Reform Programme (SERP) was renegotiated with the World Bank (WB) and the European Union (EU) under the changed economic conditions of the country.

Earlier, the WB released US$100 million (first tranche under development policy credit mode) originally negotiated under SERP in financial year 2006-07.

The WB has committed under the revised loan agreement to provide gross credit amounting to US $300 million for the financial year 2008-9 and 2010-11 with US $297 million for budgetary support and $3 million as technical assistance (TA). It released US $101.8 million as a first tranche in 2008-09 against the achievement of first year DLIs/MIs (disbursement linked indicators/monitoring indicators) which included US $1.8 million as TA.

The EU, however, has been supporting the reform programme through a grant agreement, and has committed to provide Euro 39 million over four years (from 2007 to 2010-11) and they have so far released two tranches of the proposed grant of Euro 9.5 million (1st tranche) and Euro 8.5 million (2nd tranche in 2009-10 respectively.

The WB additionally released in January US $17.245 million as advance disbursement out of the proposed second tranche for the current financial year.

It is expected that the WB will release the remaining amount of the proposed second tranche by June 2010, subject to the achievement of the required DLIs/MIs. The news

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