The provincial government has ordered vetting of all textbooks used in higher education institutions across Punjab to cleanse the curriculum of objectionable material and curb the trends of extremism seen rising at institutions across Pakistan.
Fears regarding the country’s youth being sucked into extremist activities have seen authorities scrambling for remedial measures ever since some students of Karachi University were arrested for having links to a banned militant organisation. The arrested students were allegedly involved in attack on MQM MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan that was claimed by terror group Ansarul Sharia Pakistan.
Now, the Punjab government has not only decided to vet the curricular content in detail, but also lodge cases and first information reports (FIRs) against those found guilty of disseminating hate and objectionable material.
Committees at the district level are to be formed across the province to assess the textbooks and other educational material used in colleges. The Punjab Higher Education Commission will also collaborate with the provincial government to request academic councils in public and private universities to run a similar evaluation of content.
A meeting to discuss the formulation of these monitoring committees and devise the terms of reference (TORs) was convened by the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) the other day, reports said. The committees are to furnish their primary reports within 30 days and the needful action would follow.
According to reports, the participants of the meeting took stock of the hate material in books, textbooks, supplementary reading material, helping reading material and notes etc. The meeting appointed Directorate of Public Instruction Colleges (DPIC) director as the focal person to monitor the evaluation process. The director has also been tasked with sensitising public through advertisements and press releases regarding the issue and the government’s position on hate material.
Per plans, evaluation committees would be formed for all subjects, including Islamiyat, Urdu, Pakistan Studies, History, Geography and Political Science. The deputy director of Education (Colleges) would head the district committee that would include subject experts and senior professors of disciplines concerned to vet the textbooks. The committees would submit consolidated reports to DPIC with their finding and recommendations.
According to the mandate, each subject book review committee would undergo thorough checks of the “contents of all books, textbooks, reference books, supplementary reading material, notes etc being taught/used in public and private sector universities, colleges and institutions and furnish its observations about anything repugnant to the injunctions of Islam and prejudicial to the integrity of defence or security of Pakistan, public order or morality contained in the books”.
To apprehend inciters and offenders, a draft FIR against would also be prepared by Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) and Punjab DPIC and gotten approved by the Home Department to ‘ensure sustainability of cases’.