Madrassas failing to register will be closed: minister

Islamabad, Pakistan - All the religious seminaries that fail to register by December this year will be shut down, Lt Gen (r) Javed Ashraf Qazi, the education minister, warned on Thursday.

“The Interior Ministry has sent a summary to the cabinet division and a law in this regard would be enacted soon,” Ashraf said while talking to reporters.

To a query about seminaries’ reservations about him being the chairman of the Madrasa Reforms Board, Ashraf said that he had accepted the office unwillingly and was ready to leave it. “This office should have rested with the religious affairs minister,” he remarked. He said the government was revising the curricula to minimise disparity in education systems and would introduce a uniform curriculum throughout the country.

He said all four provinces had agreed that mathematics and science would be taught in English and English, as a subject, would be made compulsory after first grade in all schools, he added. Ashraf said that Pakistan Studies would be taught in Urdu in all schools.

He said that initially the project would start by selecting ten schools in every district for implementing the fist phase of the reforms. These reforms, he added, would be implemented from the next session and in the meantime availability of trained teachers would be ensured in the selected schools.

The minister said the government was concentrating on improving education in far flung areas, especially Balochistan. When asked why Balochistan had been ignored in the past he said, “The governments in the province never asked for funds for education”.

He said regulatory bodies were being formed to look into the affairs of private schools in all the four provinces, and Northern Areas. Such a body has already started functioning in Sindh, the minister said. He said the Aga Khan Examination Board would help other educational authorities to prepare examination papers “if they sought its help.”

Later addressing the concluding session of an international seminar on “Physics in Developing Countries, Past, Present and Future” as the chief guest, Ashraf emphasised concentrating on science and technology for development of the country. “Today the world is not conquering us with weapons, it is conquering us with science and technology” he said.

He criticised Muslim countries for not utilising their resources on development in scientific fields. He said, “Muslim scientists gather every year in the COMSTEC meeting and read their papers. The meetings usually end without any progress.”

He said that except for a few individual cases there was a dearth of scientists in Pakistan as well as the entire Muslim world. The education system in the country was not producing scientists, he said, adding the examinations in the country should be more analytical.

Staff Report adds from Peshawar: NWFP Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Malik Zafar Azam has said that registration of madrassas had begun in the Frontier province and 720 religious seminaries had been registered so far.

This he told a delegation of clerics which called on him at his office here on Thursday. Talking to the delegation, Mr Azam said that the registration process of madaris was in progress in a transparent manner and presently applications of 353 madaris were under consideration. He said that the government was endeavouring to register all the religious seminaries in the province while government officials were also trying to simplify the registration process so that clerics did not have problems, he said.

He also asked clerics to inform government if they have difficulty filling applications for registration of their madrassas.