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Stakeholders warned against religious indoctrination in policy

GUJRANWALA, Pakistan: The participants of a seminar organized by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) called upon the government and other politicians to refrain from using religion for political gains.

The participants welcomed recent statement by Bilawal Bhutto and other leaders who emphasized that “religion is not a Card to be abused in politics”.

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Peter Jacob, the Executive Director of CSJ, stated “If we, as a society, succeed in stopping the abuse of religion, Pakistan will enter a new era of democratic development.”

Noting that the Curriculum and textbooks are replete with religious content, impacting the overall learning objectives, the speakers at the seminar observed that the given content may increase the pervasive discrimination and intolerance with regards to race, gender, religion and sect.

The participants deliberated the need to design curriculum based on principles of tolerance, inclusion and diversity, principles outlined by the Qauid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his inaugural speech to the constituent assembly in 1947.

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It was highlighted that based on a detailed analyses of the revised curriculum, it is evident that content of the textbooks is designed to appease certain religious sections of the society and promotes monolithic view of society. The civil society stakeholders have been making substantive recommendations to improve the curriculum that have been largely ignored. One other aspect evident from the process of formulation is lack of coordination amongst relevant policy forums. The participants of the seminar were informed that external arbitrary interventions by different state functionaries and certain pressure groups in the society have made it difficult for the educationist to formulate a progressive and comprehensive curriculum.

Peter Jacob, leading the discussion, appreciated the inclusion of religious education for minority students enabling them to study their religious own beliefs in exercise of their religious freedom. However, he underscored the need to commission a comprehensive evaluation to analyse effects of compulsory religious education in schools on overall outlook of society over the last five decades.

The speakers also emphasized the need to holding next census in an effective, transparent manner as well as by including media and civil society groups.

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A video on single national curriculum named Mera Aane Wala Kal was showcased at the seminar too.

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