Regularization of Pakistan's unregistered Madrassahs

Only 507 madressahs provided assistance under Madressah Reforms Package
Islamabad, Oct 9: The Senate has been told the actual number of madressahs in the country far exceeds the 15,843 that have been registered. The largest number over 11,000 is located in Punjab. Only 507 madressahs have been provided assistance by the education ministry under the Madressah Reforms Package of the previous government. The vast majority remain well beyond the ambit of government control, with no means of ascertaining what is taught or how.

The limited studies carried out suggest that even when madressah pupils are not encouraged to back militancy, they are brainwashed into believing women are inferior or that Indians represent a threat to Muslims. Such opinions have crossed over into the mainstream. The new educational policy announced by the PPP government incorporates many hard-line views and fails to take into account the possible presence of non-Muslim children in classrooms. We are told the government succumbed to pressure from the religious right to avoid tampering with 'Islamic' components of the policy even though in most cases these have nothing to do with Islam and its focus on tolerance and peace.

Extremism continues to haunt us. It does so in part because we have consistently failed to heed the voices of sanity. An eminent religious scholar has suggested religious education be declared a 'speciality' and be pursued only after ten years or more of regular schooling. Other persons with religious learning have suggested that the views of Al-Azhar University, the premier institution of Sunni Islam, be promoted and followed more widely. Such counsel makes sense. It is time we adopted policies that could help us escape the nightmare of extremism into which we have been hurled as a result of the flawed policies of the past. The news

20,000 unregistered madressahs
Islamabad: If the government was under any illusion that exercising control over the madressahs after the latter had been allowed to proliferate was an easy task, it must be learning the hard way that it faces a major challenge. When the interior minister informed the National Assembly the other day that an agreement had been reached with the Ittehad Tanzeemat-i-Madaris Pakistan to set up a regulatory body, his statement was refuted by a leader of the ITMP. In fact, it appears that an agreement had indeed been signed between the two sides. For the representatives of the seminaries to term it as premature is an indication of the rocky road that lies ahead for the madressah regulation process. Little progress has been achieved on this front ever since the Musharraf regime announced in the wake of 9/11 its intention to reform the seminaries. Even the number of institutions could not be accurately determined as many institutions refused to cooperate with the organisers of the school census held in 2005. Now we are told that there are 20,000 madressahs that need to be registered. Reports speak of a large number of seminaries that have been defiant in this respect.

So far the government has adopted a conciliatory approach. The National Education Policy provides for the establishment of a regulatory authority to work under the interior ministry - not the education ministry, as would have been logical. The aim is to bring these institutions into the mainstream by introducing modern curricula to be taught alongside with courses on religion. We do not know if these will also be streamlined because many of these institutions are known to preach jihad and violence. There is also a need to impart instruc- tion through rational pedagogic methods so that students learn religion by applying reason and comprehension. Dawn

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Governemt high School's demand perturbed parents
Islamabad: The parents of children studying in Government Girls High School, Muslim Town, are perturbed over the step taken by the principal of demanding an affidavit from them as a condition for appearing in the Annual Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination.

The step is the figment of her imagination as there is no rule that makes it obligatory for parents-guardians to submit such an affidavit. There of course are BISE rules that authorise the head of an institution to withhold the admission form of a candidate and disallow her to appear in the next examination, for shortage of lectures or getting F grade in the internal assessment scheme.

Government Girls High School Naeema Rana has obtained affidavits from parents-guardians of students, making it clear to them that in case their child fails in the pre-board test, she would not be allowed to sit in the SSC examination.

Parents of the students, on condition of anonymity said that the principal of the school has forced parents of all students of SSC to submit an affidavit with the school that must state that the school administration would not be compelled to send the admission of any student, if she fails to qualify in the pre-board test.

"We have submitted the affidavit, as our children were forcing us to do so," parents said and added that they sent their children to school to get education and if the principal has proper control over the administration and sees to it that proper education is being imparted, there is no question that a girl should normally fail. However it is a bitter fact that teachers in most schools do not take pains to teach their students as was done in the past.

Government Girls High School Principal Naeema Rana said, "The affidavit I have obtained from parents states that if the attendance of any student is not up to the mark, the school administration will not process her admission form for the SSC examination." She said the main purpose of getting this affidavit is to force parents to concentrate on their children's attendance.

While parents claim that the school has provided an affidavit specimen to children in which it is clearly mentioned that the school would not process the admission of any student, who would not qualify in the pre-board test.

District Education Officer Malik Ashraf, however, said, "There is no such law that demands any kind of affidavit from parents." He added that if any school head is doing so, it is his or her own decision and action would be taken against those who make their own rules and laws. "I will send a notice to all schools to stop such a practice, as it is not required," he added.

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Sanitation week at AIOU
Islamabad: The students and staff of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) actively participated in the 'Sanitation Week' campaign started on Thursday to highlight the importance of cleanliness. AIOU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Butt, inaugurated the campaign by painting the bank of footpath in front of the central library in the main campus of university.

Emphasising the importance of cleanliness, Professor Mehmood- ul-Hassan Butt said that "cleanliness is not only the name to keep clean and neat ourselves and our surroundings but it is necessary to keep ourselves clean internally." Hygiene is also an important part of the fundamental and social directions of Islam, he added. The teachers, officers and employees of the university also participated in the campaign. The news

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