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Experts urge for teaching ethics in curriculum to promote diversity among youth

Peshawar—The speakers at a consultation emphasized the need to introduce subjects of ethics and character-building in the curriculum to promote diversity, and inclusion among youth through education.

Lawmakers, academics, provincial government officials, journalists, lawyers, rights activists, civil society representatives, and students participated in the two-day consultation on ‘promoting diversity, and inclusion among youth through education’, held here at the Shaykh Zayed Islamic Centre of the University of Peshawar.

The discussion was organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research and advocacy think-tank. The purpose of the consultation was to identify problems in the existing curriculum and textbooks that contribute to faith-based exclusion, and religious radicalism. The other main objective was to know about how to improve the quality of textbooks, teaching methods, and the overall system, and propose policy options for making the education system and the curriculum inclusive.

The experts said that the policymakers were not serious about facing the challenge as the present education system promoted tendencies of religious, ethnic, sectarian, and gender intolerance among youth.  They emphasized that they should make a critical review of all the previous education policies, and prepare the curriculum according to their own needs.

The panelists called for enhancing skill development of youth by giving technical education the top priority in the present education system. They also suggested to the policymakers that teacher training should be the main focus of any education policy.

Dr Minhas Majeed Khan Marwat of the University of Peshawar insisted that they first should define what kind of changes they needed to bring in the content of syllabus, and structure of entire education system? She questioned this has also to be seen whether the policymakers are ready to bring the desired changes?

Director Academics, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Education Foundation, Shahab Saqib was of the view that the existing curriculum did not fulfill basic needs of the society. “Technical education is on the low priority of the present system,” he said, adding that industry should be connected with the education sector. He underlined that the subject of character-building in the curriculum was missing.

Director Shaykh Zayed Islamic Centre Professor Dr Rashid Ahmad remarked that they would have to review certain content present in the curriculum. He noted that faith-based subjects in the curriculum of seminaries could not be excluded but all schools of Islamic thought should be at liberty to explain and interpret issues according to their own choice. He said that the subject of ethics should be promoted in the curriculum and it must be connected with the supremacy of rule of law. “The entire curriculum should be rephrased if we cannot change it totally.”

Central Joint Secretary Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Hashim Raza deplored that the Pakistani youth had been taught distorted history. “We should be realistic about how to move forward.” He further said that the state should ensure economic, political, social, cultural, and civil rights to the citizens.

Shakil Waheedullah, another leader of QWP, underscored that they wanted to see the youth as civilized, and educated people of the society. He said that the subject of ethics should be introduced in the curriculum besides promoting technical education. He also stressed the need to revive political activities for students on campuses.

Information Secretary Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) for KP Haji Jalil Jan said that emphasis in the curriculum should be on teaching ethical values to youth. “We should have such a curriculum which is acceptable to all.” He said that social media was being misused, especially by youth, which has damaged the moral and ethical values of the society.

Director PIPS Muhammad Amir Rana in his introductory remarks said that the purpose of the discussion was to identity problems in the present education system, and form comprehensive recommendations for the policymakers to help them to review and reform the curriculum by removing basic flaws in it.