Policy Shift: Islamic Studies No Longer Compulsory for Non-Muslims in Pakistan

Islamic Studies – The Pakistani government has made it clear that islam will no longer be a requirement for students who are not Muslims across Pakistan.

In a notice on Jan. 22nd in a notification, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training approved a new course of study that makes the study of Islam not compulsory for Christian, Bahai, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Zoroastrian students of this Islamic nation.

The Religious Education Curriculum 2023 for Grades 1-12 is expected to be available beginning the academic year following in 2024-2025.

The Catholic Church has been calling on the government to provide for students who are not Muslims to receive religious education based on their faith instead of Islamiat, which consists of courses about Islamic faiths and practices.

Naeem Yousaf Gill, director of the National Commission of Justice and Peace, the rights governing body within the Pakistani bishops’ Council, applauded the move.

“We applaud the involvement of the government’s Catholic bishops in developing the curriculum of Christianity. However, the monitoring and implementation pose a different challenge. Minorities policies are often unsuccessful in the United States,” he told UCA News.

Pakistan has among the lowest budget allocations to the education sector within South Asia. The country allocated 1.7 per cent of its GDP to education in the fiscal year 2022-23 compared to 1.4 in the previous year.

“The long-term process will require training of teachers and a salary structure,” Gill noted.

In 2020, province-wide, the Punjab government made it mandatory that Muslim students learn about the Quran and non-Muslim students were required to study ethics in place of Islamiat starting in Grade 3.

Jaipal Chhabria, president of the Pakistan Hindu Forum, rejected the teaching of religious studies in educational institutions.

“Civilized nations don’t do it. This was not the intention of our founder father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah],” he stated.

“You are at liberty; you’re free to visit your temples. You are welcome to go to mosques or other religious places in the Pakistani state.” Pakistan,” Jinnah had declared in an address to the nation upon the country’s independence from Britain.

“In an environment where the majority thinks its religion is superior, a Muslim teacher can’t teach Christianity or Hinduism,” Chhabria said. Chhabria.

Islamic Studies – In the most recent census of 2017, Pakistan was home to 2.6 million Christians, which comprised 1.27 per cent of the total population estimated at 207 million. Hindus represented 1.73 per cent.

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