Schools cast minorities in bad light: study


Public schools and madrasas in Pakistan are fueling discrimination by casting Hindus and other minorities in a negative light, says a report on the country’s education system. Produced by an independent US government commission, the report on Pakistani textbooks and teaching practices found 80 percent of public school teachers viewed non-Muslims as “enemies of Islam” in one way or another. “This study – the first-ever study of its kind – documents how Pakistan’s public schools and privately-run madrasas are not teaching tolerance but are exacerbating religious differences,” said Leonard Leo, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. “Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security.” Written in collaboration with a Pakistani think tank, the 139-page report called for modernised textbooks, better teacher training and renewed progress on curricular reforms unveiled in 2006 but never fully implemented. “Education is part of the problem, and part of the solution,” Knox Thames, director of policy and research at the commission, told AFP.