Minorities Students Struggle with Arabic in State-Run Schools

April 30, 2007

Author: Amar Guriro

Source: Daily Times


KARACHI: Seven-year-old Angela finds it difficult to study Islamiyat at school. “I don’t know if I have to study it or not, but it’s really difficult to pronounce the Arabic properly,” she said.

Angela, one of many children belonging to the Hindu Maheshwari, is a class three student at N. A. Bechar Government Primary School that has been converted into the Syed Mahmood Shah Ghazi Government Primary School in Old Kumbhar Para near Lee Market in Lyari Town.

She is one of thousands of other non-Muslim students, including Hindus and Christians, who are left with no choice but to study Islamic education rather than their own religion in state-run educational institutions. A majority of over two million Pakistani Hindus have lived and worked in Sindh for centuries and half a million of them live in Karachi city alone. The Sindh government and the education board of Karachi have failed to implement a separate syllabus in the city’s primary and middle schools for minority students.

“Islamiyat” (Islamic studies) is compulsory for all Muslim students in state-run schools but there is no parallel curriculum in other religions. The education board has introduced “Akhlaqiyyat” or Ethics to cater to them but most of the state-run schools in Karachi do not allow non-Muslim students to take it up. In reality, teachers often force these students to sit in Islamiyat classes. This takes place even though no written permission has been acquired from the parents of the child in question.