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Pakistan textbooks raise debate about 'curriculum of hate'

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“Such textbooks try to create and define Pakistani nationalism in a very narrow sense. It tries to define it in term of an Islamic identity,” says Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a well-known historian, activist, and former physicist who is part of a Lahore-based campaign to encourage teachers around the country to raise awareness about this issue by calling it “the curriculum of hatred” and encouraging teachers to stop using the textbooks.

After the teacher finishes reading, he asks another student to continue reading aloud from the next chapter, which focuses on why Pakistan came into existence: "Narrow-mindedness of the Hindus and the conspiracies of whites led to the call of this Islamic country, Pakistan.”

When asked later about his opinion of Hindus and Christians, the student reiterates what his textbook said. “I think Hindus are against Pakistan, against Islam. Hindus are like that. And even the British and the non-Muslims – they still oppose Pakistan,” he adds.

That type of reaction is a problem, say activists, who note that school history texts are used by impressionable children and should be based in fact, not opinion, as students form their own ideas about the world. “These books try to show Pakistan and Muslims are victims of all kinds of conspiracy, from lots of people from many countries, which results in making people very paranoid,” says Mr. Nayyar. “And they become infused with narrowmindedness,” which can lead to extremism, he adds.

'The subtle subversion'

Each province has its own textbook board, which reviews and approves textbooks for use in both public and private schools.

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