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‘Teachers should play intellectual input in today’s time to stay as role models’

PIPS workshop with teachers and educationists-I

For a teacher to be relevant in today’s time, he or she must pay attention to critical intellectual challenges of the country and stay updated with the usage of modern technologies. Only then can they respond to the needs of the students, swaying them away from extremism.

These thoughts came in a day-long workshop held with teachers, on the role of teachers in social and religious harmony, held on 15 May 2017 in Lahore. Around 30 teachers from southern Punjab attended the workshop.

Starting the discussion, senior journalist Sabookh Syed shared the work of PIPS in the domain of countering extremism in Pakistan – one of the key planks being of involving teachers. The national strategy on countering extremism in Pakistan, a report produced by PIPS, in specific calls for reforming education sector, and securing cultural spaces to counter radicalism. It details list of suggestions for education departments, recommending that critical reforms in subjects like Pakistan Studies and Islamiat are essential, and that all citizens of the country be incorporated in form and content of programs and policies of the country.

Qazi Javed, Director, Institute of Islamic Culture Lahore, asked teachers about roles – is it to bring change? Is it to finish curriculum? Is it for this world or afterlife? He noted how strange it is that humans are progressing on the one hand, crossing new frontiers in science and technology, yet hatred and divisions among humans have widened with unparalleled past. He wondered why.

Ammar Khan Nasir, Director Al-Sharia Academy Gujranawal, wondered who should be blamed for the decline in social harmony – teachers or curriculum? A teacher is to be role model; we are not ready to invest in such a teacher, and are not ready to look at the positives; we need to focus on negativities only.

Shahbaz Manj, Professor Sargodha University, said that teacher is an agent of change; his profession is a sacred one. What is being taught today is completely different than today’s reality; earlier, it was pointed out that even teachers are assessed on outdated criteria, which is wrong.

Sahibzada Amanat Rasool, religious scholar, said that teachers can provide enabling environment to students to sit with each other, contact each other. He shared a survey which found that people were not interacting with each other. He called for ending classes in the society.

Hussain Naqqi, former director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Lahore, while highlighting the plight of minorities in Pakistan, asked that while the subject of Islamic Studies has been added in the curriculum of Muslim students since long, is there any similar provisions for non-Muslims?

Meanwhile, Mujtaba Rathore distributed a special booklet on promoting peace education in Pakistan.

Raghib Naeemi called for respecting rule of law. He said it is unfortunate that extremism is linked to faith. This, he said, is a big challenge for teachers when commenting on such subjects in classroom; so far, our state has been exploring for answers. Students have lost interaction with parents and teachers, relying more on social media, falling prey to extremist ideas.

Dr. Amir Abdullah, Secretary General Al-Maward Institute, Lahore, shared that around 90% recruitments to terrorist organizations, today, are made online.