All Madaris to be registered

ISLAMABAD - The government is preparing a comprehensive policy for registering over 6,500 religious schools and to bring these into mainstream educational system, an official source said.

A high-level meeting presided over by President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Monday held in-depth discussion on a policy being framed by the ministry of religious affairs regarding more than 6,500 Madaris functioning in the country, an official told Dawn.

"The strategy is being prepared and will be announced by President Gen Pervez Musharraf once it is finalised and approved," an official, who attended the meeting, said.

The president would hold a series of meetings with the officials concerned, including the provincial governors, in the coming weeks to finalize the strategy which would take care of the issue of extremism the official quarters believe is being fanned by these schools.

The meeting, which was briefed by Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider and Religious Minister Mehmood A. Ghazi, was also attended by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Lt-Gen Aziz Khan, Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen Yousaf, Director General Inter Service Intelligence and Director General Military Intelligence, the source said.

The meeting was given a breakdown of the religious schools being run by different sects and those receiving funds from foreign sources, he added.

An official study of these Madaris showed that over 600,000 students were enrolled in these schools. It was decided that audit of all the foreign-funded religious schools be carried out and a mechanism be evolved to keep track of funds being received from foreign sources.

Syllabi of these schools would be reviewed and a component of conventional subjects including Mathematics and English would also be introduced so that students of these schools could be gainfully employed after graduation.

Religious boards would be set up at the provincial level in all the four provinces and these would carry out examination at Matric and secondary-school levels.