Dual education system divides Pakistan

By Hizbullah Khan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/18 21:18:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

For almost one thousand years, madrassas have served as the learning institutions in Muslim societies producing Islamic scholars and clerics. The madrassa network in Pakistan mushroomed under the rule of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s under his Islamization efforts and now serves as a separate education system in Pakistan. They have their own curriculum and teaching methods, and do not use the curriculum designed by the Pakistani government.

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, there were only 189 madrassas. After his 1977 coup, General Zia made Islamic studies compulsory at all levels of education and declared madrassa certificates equivalent to normal university degrees.

According to Umair Khalil's report The Madrassa Conundrum, which was published by the non-governmental research organization HIVE in 2015, there are now over 35,000 madrassas in the country.

The national curriculum is considered a very important part of the nation's progress, as it plays a vital role in improving society and uniting the people, and provides solutions to issues ranging from politics, socioeconomics, and conflict resolution. There needs to be agreement about the essential knowledge that all students need to learn for full participation in society.

But Pakistani society is divided into two segments because the religious and secular curriculums are completely different from each other. Both curriculums have produced different mindsets in their students, which has increased difficulties for Pakistani society.

The religious seminary students don't approve of modern education, claiming Western or "non-Islamic" education is the main reason behind the destruction of Muslim society. They believe universities are systematically brainwashing the minds of Muslim students and see students who study in the secular education system not only adopt the Western style of life but also refuse to live with Islamic principles.

Religious-minded people say Islam is unknown in universities and university students are time-wasters. They believe that the secular education is antagonistic to Islamic teachings and believe personal development is possible only within the Islamic school system.

Today's secular students regard the madrassa curriculum as being centuries-old and unrelated to contemporary matters.

Students of modern studies understand that the educated people are those who study in schools, colleges, and universities and want to restructure society according to scientific and technological developments, and think that modernization is essential for Pakistan to compete with other nations. They believe that secularism and modernization are paramount in order to allow Pakistan to compete with other nations.

The dual education system has divided society into the religious and secular. Unfortunately, both groups, instead of seeking unity, are spreading hatred and producing strife.

The mutual dislike between secular and religious people arises from the differences between the secular and religious curriculums. Most violence in Pakistani society over the last three decades stems from curriculum-based hatred.

The different curriculums have produced conflict in the mindsets of religious and secular students in Pakistan. The curriculum should be the backbone for the whole nation. It should meet societal needs instead of increasing clashes between people. The adoption of an advanced and comprehensive curriculum is the first need for a modern society and is important for an advanced and civilized society.

In Pakistan, most of the seminary students don't have awareness about knowledge in other areas, such as science, management and engineering. At the same time, there are few opportunities for university students to select Islamic disciplines as a major and they remain unaware of religious education.

The government ought to include modern education in the curriculum of seminaries and include religious studies in the modern education curriculum. It is the best way for the students of both institutions to be aware of the other's ideas and build social unity.

Pakistan should adopt the scientific education curriculum that is used in most developed countries to train a new generation in order to ready them for the service of their country. Pakistan needs to familiarize its new generation with the latest developments in science and technology and guide their mentality on a humanist basis. Otherwise, we will be faced with threats to our future generation's identity.

The author is a freelance investigative journalist in Pakistan. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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