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Our textbooks and the lies they teach

By Raza Rumi

Due to the 18th Amendment, a momentous shift in Pakistan’s governance arrangements is taking place through a politically mediated and largely consensual manner. The federal government is being trimmed and 10 ministries have already been devolved to the provinces. A key development pertains to the devolution of education — lock, stock and barrel — to the provinces. Most notably, the odious era of setting poisonous, centralised curricula in the name of a ‘martial’ nationalism is finally over. Whether the past practices of turning Pakistan into a jihad project will end is uncertain, unless the provinces take the initiative and reverse the regrettable trajectory of the past.

Pakistani textbooks have preached falsehoods, hatred and bigotry. They have constructed most non-Muslims, especially Hindus, as evil and primordial enemies, glorified military dictatorships and omitted references to our great betrayal of the Bengali brothers and sisters who were the founders and owners of the Pakistan movement. It is time to correct these wrongs.

However, this shift will be daunting for many reasons. The provinces are not well-prepared and would need to build capacities at their end. Similarly, generations of pseudo-historians, inspired by state narratives, exist who are willing to perpetuate the culture of weaving lies. Other than the ideological issues, bureaucratic slovenliness has also marred past performance. While the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa textbook boards have been updating curricula, those in Sindh and Balochistan have not done so for nearly a decade.

So it is heartening to note that the Sindh government has finally made some headway now on the issue. The education department is working to update and align textbooks with the 2006 guidelines agreed to by all provinces. In addition, efforts are underway with the expertise of civil society to introduce critical modes of teaching, with supplementary learning material for both teachers and students.

The Sindh education department and the textbook board under the 2006 policy will be following a transparent process, inviting private publishers to submit books for subjects such as English, Mathematics, General Knowledge and Social Studies. For the first time, private publishers will be submitting transcripts for approval. The draft textbooks will then be reviewed by a committee comprising government and private experts and will finally be published in time for the April 2012 academic year.

What are the chances of this brilliant idea being implemented? Despite the odds, there is a strong likelihood that it may work. Largely, because the ruling coalition has an agreement over this issue and the 18th Amendment give full powers to the province. It is critical that other provinces also take note of Sindh’s initiative and set up similar reform committees.

Extremism in Pakistan has grown beyond belief and radicalisation of the young minds is a great challenge for Pakistan’s future. The provinces need to move quickly and undo the wrong committed by central authorities in the past.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2011.


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8 Responses to "Our textbooks and the lies they teach"

  1. just United States Safari Mac OS says:

    OBL is dead. Pakistan can declare a holiday, rename a stadium.

  2. Watty Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:


    He was finally taken down near Islamabad… All you PAKI hypocrites!

  3. indic India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Teaching children from textbooks created in the spirit of Pakistan ideology and islamic glorification is child molestation. A civilized cultured society regards this as a grave crime and sin.

  4. Prasad India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Islam as a religion should be SEPERATED from Governance. Ataturk realized it a hundred years back…no one was with steel balls was born after him in the muslim brotherhood… I dont think anyone has the balls of steel still….considering the legacy of ataturk and his own govt in Turkey!

    having said that….Raza you are honest….Things should change in Pakistan…Please refer Indian texts they certainly dont glorify Marauder rules ( read mostly muslims) but they GLORIFY AKBAR and TIPOO Sultan in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS………I would say should atleast have THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO GLORIFY EMPEROR ASOKA AND KANISHKA WHO TRULY BELONGED TO PAKISTAN!!!!!

    APPARENTLY Asoka’s engravings are nearby Abbotabad…per William Dalrymple…I was glad to know it….Now HOW CAN WE CLAIM IT???

  5. indic India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    to Prasad

    You are asking for the impossible.

    Islam is a totalitarian creed and seeks totalitarian control over EVERYTHING.
    Islam cannot separate itself from politics, jurisprudence, children’s upbringing etc. It must possess them in a totalitarian-exclusive manner and for totalitarian goals. And islam must thus ruin them.

    Hindu religions succeeded in maintaining themselves under 600 to 800 years of islamic rule (as against christianity and zoroastrianism in West Asia and North Africa which collapsed in less than 100 years of muslim rule). Hence we had exceptional muslim-born examples of tolerance and open-mindedness like Akbar or Dara Shukoh (who are much hated among orthodox muslims) in India.

    Islam due to its harsh west-asiatic monotheism/totalitarianism and finalism is incompatible with indian-ness, tolerance, open-mindedness etc.

  6. It is advisable that if your posts are added some relative pictures which will make your blog more fantastic.

  7. Dayana China Netscape Navigator Windows says:

    Smart thinking – a cevler way of looking at it.

  8. GS test demo China Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Our textbooks and the lies they teach | Pak Tea House

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