Madrasa reforms

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WIFAQUL Madaris al Arabia Pakistan has accused the Gov ernment of not implementing the agreement it had inked with the representative body of madaris, threatening that its schools would not receive government assistance in any form. According to its General Secretary Maulana Hanif Jalandhari the Government is not serious about negotiating with madaris to resolve their issues. Reforms in religious seminaries are part of the National Action Plan against terrorism, which envisages effective measures to curb hate speeches and extremist narratives. Seminaries are mostly privately funded and outside the purview of the Government and that is why there is anxiety that they produce unskilled graduates, steeped in intolerant version of Islam. Critics also claim that graduates of these institutions are illequipped to face modern world and, therefore, easily fall prey to militant outfits. Announcing a practical plan for reforms last year, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said the government will register more than 30,000 madaris, which will teach subjects like English, Mathematics and Science. The plan seems to be a step in the right direction as the Government will bear the cost of introduction of modern subjects that will help prepare the students to take up better jobs in the market. However, the plan is being viewed by many as intrusive and an attempt to control and not regulate religious institutions. These apprehensions need to be addressed through discussions and dialogue and the best way would be to introduce reforms by taking all stakeholders on board. The current curriculum of Dars-e-Nizami also needs revision and update to link it with modern day requirements but revision of curriculum should also be done through consultations with scholars of repute. In this regard, guidance from Council of Islamic Ideology and International Islamic University can also be sought to make the revision acceptable.