For some time now, there has been a strong pressure on Pakistan’s religious schools (madrassas) to change their ways, since they have been widely seen as having contributed to the development of radical forms of Islam.
In a major turnaround, madrassas run by Maulala Fazalur Rehman’s Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam group will be modernizing their syllabus to remove the Taliban taint they have carried for almost a decade, reports the Indo-Asian News Service (Aug. 1; http://www.eians.com).
This is particularly significant since “Rehman is considered the brain behind the Taliban, which had emerged in the mid-1990s from the madrassas run by the Jamiat.” The move is reported to follow rounds of meetings between officials of the Education Ministry and representatives of the schools. The course duration should be expanded by two years (to six years) and the syllabus should include some modern subjects, including information technology, English, mathematics or social studies.
It is also planned to train the teachers in order to update their knowledge. The moves may affect the curriculum of some 2 millions students.
— By Jean-François Mayer