Sindh minority students to study ethics, not Islam

Karachi: Minority students in Pakistan’s Sindh province will not be required to study Islamic studies in future and can instead follow a book on ethics that includes the teachings of religions like Hinduism and Sikhism, authorities said today.

“Students belonging to minority communities in government schools will study the curriculum according to their own religion,” Sindh Text Book Board (STBB) chairman Syed Zakir Ali Shah said.

“The book which has been named Ikhlaqiat (ethics) will be included in the curriculum of all public schools across Sindh from April 1 of the current year from Grade 7 classes,” he added.

The content of the book has been prepared to include teachings from different religions.

“The book has been prepared to include the teachings of different religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism and mystic poetry,” Shah said.

Last year, Sindh government has announced to include a speech made on August 11, 1947, by the founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in the syllabus to promote religious tolerance.

Jinnah has talked about giving equal rights and freedom to all religious minorities in the speech.

Pakistani school textbooks have often been criticised for fostering prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and other religious minorities in the country.

A study by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2014 has found systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus and to a lesser extent of Christians, in the Pakistani school textbooks.

“Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,” the report has said.

Hindus make up a little more than one per cent of Pakistan’s over 199 million population.

However, over two million Hindus live in Sindh and over half a million of them live in Karachi city alone.