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Is approval from Ulema required in approving science textbooks?

Notably, the Punjab Assembly had approved a law whereby an Ulema Board approved all Islamic content in the curriculum.

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The Education Ministry stated Tuesday that the process of approval of Science textbooks did not require approval from the Ulema Board.

The ministry was responding to speculation that the Ulema Board had issued a decree in which it had called for all human figures in Biology textbooks of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) to be covered with clothes.

As per a report in The News, the education ministry said “vested interests” have initiated a campaign to discredit the government’s efforts to develop the SNC for schools across the nation.

According to it, the SNC has so far been approved only up to grade V. Biology is a subject that is taught beginning from Grade IX and no textbooks for Biology have so far been finalised.

“The federal government’s approval process for Science textbooks does not involve any consultation with the Muttahida Ulema Board and so any claim that the Board has prohibited the inclusion of any diagrams or educational material from the Biology textbooks is factually inaccurate,” it said.

The ministry reiterated that Science textbooks are being prepared in consultation with relevant and renowned local and international experts.

However, the education ministry did acknowledge that the Punjab Assembly had approved a law whereby an Ulema Board approved all Islamic content in the curriculum.

“The Punjab government has informed us that no change was made to the Biology textbooks by that board,” it said.

The ministry also rejected speculation that qaris from madressahs will be appointed to teach the Holy Quran in both public and private schools across the country.

“No such order has been made by the government at any level. The teaching of Qirat to Muslim students is part of the Islamiyat curriculum and is mandatory to foster their religious learning,” it said.

Read More: Pakistani ulema demand diagrams and sketches in biology textbooks be dressed up

“This instruction can be provided by the existing Islamiat or Religious Studies teachers or the school can hire anyone they deem fit. This does not preclude anyone including graduates of madrassahs but the decision of who to hire is of the individual school whether public or private and not of the Federal Government.”

“Historic initiative”

The ministry also highlighted that the SNC is a “historic initiative” and was not against minorities.

“The Single National Curriculum is a historic initiative introduced to eliminate Pakistan’s long-standing class-based education system and create equal educational standards for all the students of Pakistan, regardless of race, class, gender, and any other arbitrary marker. It is being developed with expert input from all segments of society and is being designed in line with the pedagogical needs of the 21st century,” it said.

Read More: Islam and Trade: Can Ulema be Merchants?

The ministry further said it strived to ensure that the curriculum is not only reflective of all Pakistanis but also promotes tolerance, peace and brotherhood among all communities in the country.

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