Dr Yahya Hassan Bajwa (Baden, Switzerland)1: The Pakistani School Textbooks Project I. Foreword Pakistan is a country where religion – here Islam – plays an imminent role. More then 98% of its population belong to one of the Sunnite or Shia sects. 2 Important to know is also that more then 60% of its population is illiterate. Also out of the Mullahs, the religious leaders, many are not able to read or write! They just now a little of the Holy Qur’an by hearth and that is enough to play an important role in the village which can not be challenged by an ordinary man or woman because of lack of knowledge. Once the Islamic prayer “Rabbe sidni ilma” (God give me knowledge) was embedded in the thinking of the society. Today it seems that religion and politics are misused in Pakistan to keep the people shut their mouths. Since the take-over by the military dictator Zia ul Haq in 1977, the rate of illiteracy has risen. Also governments which were voted for after 1988 through the Pakistani voters were not able or willing to improve this situation. Even when Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of Zulifkar Ali Bhutto who was hanged by Zia, was Premier Minister, nothing changed to the positive in this matter – although she promised to do something and many women had put their trust and hope in her! One achievement of culture is its literature. Books play an important part in culture! Not only are they written records of the history of a nation but also give on traditions to the next generation. School textbooks are therefore a very powerful tool to give on information which form the children in their thinking and in their (future) behaviour. “Since 1988, Aurat Foundation [Aurat = Women], with the collaboration of UNICEF, has been working on textbooks from the perspective of portrayal of women.” 3 Ruquia Jafri worked on this topic and published the result of her analysis in “Gender Bias in Pakistani School Textbooks” which was updated in September 1994. She pointed out that “abilities are the possibilities a child is born with. Concepts and attitudes are a result of socialization which may occur before the child starts understanding things. Most of this process takes place at the unconscious or the subconscious level. It is through school education that socialization can be carried out at the conscious level. [...] Hence effectiveness of school education and significance as a tool of socialization”. 4 In this research paper I would like to focus on two main elements: 1. The role of religion in the society and its role in school textbooks. 2. The role of the school textbook project for the development of new school books and its possible impact on society. II.a. The role of religion in the Pakistani society Pakistan is known as the Islamic country on the Indian Subcontinent. The role of the Mullahs, the Islamic clerics, was from the beginning of its creation very ambiguous. While Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was called by the people “Qaid – e – Azam” (the great leader), most of the religious leaders named him “Kafir – e – Azam” (the biggest unbeliever). 1
Dr. Yahya Hassan Bajwa is a Swiss-Pakistani national who has worked for the Teachers Publishing House in Zürich/Switzerland (Zürcher Lehrmittel Verlag) and has written the chapters on Islam for several publications which are today in the school curriculum. The book "God has many faces/ Gott hat viele Gesichter" was awarded the Silver award 1996 by the Worlddidac Foundation, Basel, Switzerland. In 2001 the book "Humans live in Religions and Cultures/ Menschen leben in Religionen und Kulturen" was chosen as the third best Schoolbook in the competition "Best European Schoolbook" at the Book exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany. 2 Sunnite believe that Hazrat Abu Bakr was correctly chosen as caliph after the death of the holy Prophet Muhammad (sws) while the Shia Muslims point out that only a relative of Muhammad (sws) ought to be chosen. 3 Ruquia Jafri, “Gender Bias in Pakistani...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document