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Reforming Education: Will PTI’s government award scholarships during the current year?

Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to increase scholarships for the deserving students before coming into power. Has the government any plan to introduce national curriculum and increase scholarships during the current year?

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Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the government is set to award scholarships worth Rs12 billion during the current year. While addressing participants at the Global Development Workshop, organised by the UK-Pakistan Science Innovation Global Network (UPSIGN), a UK-based charity, Fawad said that over 70 experts and scientists have arrived in Pakistan to participate in the workshop.

He further said that Pakistan had partnered with the UK in the field of research. He apprised the participants that interaction of these international experts and scientists with President Dr Arif Alvi has been arranged on March 10. While shedding light on the progress of science and technology in Pakistan, the minister said the country would soon introduce electric buses, making transportation less costly. He further said that the budget of science and technology has been increased by 600 per cent.

PTI introducing national curriculum

In a move to reduce social injustice and provide every citizen with an equal opportunity at education, the federal government has announced to introduce the ‘national curriculum’ for all the institutes including seminaries. The incumbent has already announced that it will leave no stone unturned to counter with extremism in Pakistan. For that matter, radical reforms have been suggested in the education system of the country.

According to details, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood said during a press conference that his ministry is preparing the ‘national’ syllabus after taking all the curriculums around the world into its consideration. Therefore, “those who think the curriculum of O/A levels is the standard, should know that our prepared curriculum will be a top-level one.”

Read more: Education for All: PTI government is all set to introduce National Curriculum

Moreover, for the mainstreaming of religious seminaries into the federal system of education, the minister announced that his ministry will open 12 offices across the country, and old government officials, as well as new people, will be recruited in this regard. The budget has also been approved for this project, he added.

However, Mehmood clarified that the heads of seminaries have requested a duration of four to five years for a complete transition of the system. He assured that the implementation of the process will begin soon.

The seminaries which adopt the system at the earliest will be more facilitated by the government, the minister said.

Changes in Curriculum

Recently, in a major development, Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab has recommended a ban on books authored by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Ahmadi leaders.

According to local media reports, Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said that the representatives of Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab decided unanimously on Monday to ban five books, including manifesto of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, monthly journal of Pir Afzal Qadri, ‘Awaz Ahl-e-Sunnah’, ‘Kashtiy-e-Noah’ and other five books collectively for having hateful and objectionable content.

Read more: PM House to be converted into an educational institution, says PTI Government

Mr. Ashrafi also said that Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab has always played its due role in countering terrorism and menace of extremism from Pakistan.

He also informed the media that the central board meeting of Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab has decided to ban a book of Pir Afzal Qadri ‘Monthly Awaz-e-Ahl-e-Sunnah’, ‘Kashti-e-Nuh’ of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani. The meeting further recommended filing case against the publisher of this book under section 295/C.

Pir Afzal Qadri is the chief of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) and a firebrand speaker who along with Khadim Hussain Rizvi was taken into custody for using abusive language against the judiciary and threatening judges of the superior courts after the verdict of Ms. Asia Bibi. Bail request of both TLP leaders has already been rejected by an anti-terrorism court (ATC)  in Lahore.

Furthermore, Mr. Asad Umar, then minister for finance, said that Pakistan is all set to take action against banned organizations across the country. He said it while briefing the Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs of the National Assembly on March, 13 this year. In line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that has declared the proscribed organizations operating in Pakistan a “high risk”, the government will take action against these outfits in the next three to four months, he added.

Read more: Is PTI’s government ready to reform Madrassahs?

It is important to mention here that the government has announced to implement the NAP in letter and spirit. The government has banned some organizations and arrested several leaders and members of various organizations. Besides, several mosques and religious seminaries have been taken into the control of the state to regulate them.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also said during a meeting of the federal cabinet that his government was taking action against the banned organization in the best national interest. PM Khan reportedly made it clear that anybody who challenges the writ of the state shall not be spared.  It is worth noting that while chairing a PTI’s parliamentary party meeting, the premier clarified that the crackdown on banned militant outfits was an internal security matter and the government had taken the decision without any external pressure.