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Religious Minorities and the struggle for equal education in Pakistan




Religious discrimination has been a primary concern for Pakistan since the independence era. Even though it was initially planned to incorporate diverse religious groups and ethnicities in the educational curriculum. However, by 1959, the leaders of the country had decided to intentionally create the principles of the educational policies on Islam, resulting in excluding all other religions of the minorities like Hinduism and Christianity.


Furthermore, the students and teachers of the minority groups are severely discriminated against due to their faith, which inevitably doesn’t just pose a threat to their lives but also impacts their opportunities and struggle for equal education in Pakistan. A Christian teacher shared her experience in a government-run school in an article where she stated that her Muslim colleagues in school would not associate with her as it was against their faith to sit with a Christian. Along with that she would be constantly judged and become an instant suspect in any violent activity taking place in school. This resulted in her sending her daughter to a Christian-run school where she would not face the same kind of discrimination and hence deprive her of living a normal life with the same opportunities as a Muslim child in this country.


A survey was conducted based on a sample of 200 non-Muslim children and 40 teachers. Its findings showed that 60% of those students felt disrespected and discriminated against at school amongst their Muslim peers and students, with 72% of teachers facing the same discrimination based on their faith.


Moreover, there is extreme religious intolerance by Muslim teachers and staff of schools towards their minority students. These children are often picked on negatively and face discriminatory attitudes from the teachers which results in creating an unequal divide and stereotypes in the education system. There have also been incidents where these children are denied admission purely based on their faith, snatching their rights as a citizen of Pakistan to have access to education. A large proportion of these children are girls who become victims of child marriage after forced conversions to Islam.


In addition to all these atrocities, the Pakistani textbooks and curriculum have also played a role in furthering the discrimination against religious minorities. In these textbooks, there is no mention of the role non-Muslims played in the creation and formation of Pakistan which causes the minority students to feel excluded from their nationality. The chairperson for the voluntary association People’s Commission for Minorities Rights, Peter Jacob, stated “Not only do you have one religion compulsory for all students to learn, you receive extra marks on the basis of the ability to memorize passages from the Quran.” This further portrays those other faiths as having lesser importance than Islam and eventually creates intolerance towards other faiths.


A quote from a tenth-grade Urdu textbook states, “Because the Muslim religion, culture and social system are different from non-Muslims, it is impossible to cooperate with Hindus.”


Another quote from a seventh-grade Urdu textbook of the Sindh Board states, “There were two enemies of Muslims, the Englishmen and Hindus. Both of these were against the formation of Pakistan. On one hand, the Englishmen renounced the division plan of Hindustan, while on the other hand, Hindus were planning to occupy the entire Hindustan and enslave Muslims....”


This evidently shows that the Pakistan textbooks are primarily promoting intolerance towards religious minorities and impacting the educational opportunities for the teachers and students of minority groups.


Have you ever come across any stories or examples where minorities are discriminated against? What is your stance on all this?












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You raised a couple of important points. I wonder if we could ever strive towards an inclusive education curriculum or an inclusive classroom setting. I think it is important to understand different religions. The problem here is that there is so much religious extremism that has been indoctrinated into us, however, one could argue it would be better if the muslim students were taught by muslim teachers so that not only do they feel comfortable, but are taught by a representative person who understands the Muslim community and can better help them. There should be equality in education. Your article also reminds me of the power and empowerment reading that we did in class, in this context then, the textbooks…

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25020004 Fatima Saeed
25020004 Fatima Saeed
2023年11月27日

This is a crucial topic to address. Pakistan's treatment of its minority groups has been deeply unjust. Even when these groups are granted spaces in schools, their children often face bullying. There are numerous instances where children are subjected to derogatory language about their religion or religious sects. Shockingly, it is evident that much of this hateful speech is learned at home. I've written a blog on a similar issue, focusing on prejudice against the Shia minority in Pakistani schools, where students share their experiences. I've heard from friends about the difficulties they face in keeping names that might identify them as Shia and potentially cause problems later on.

Moreover, Christian students prefer attending missionary schools so that they can…

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I acknowledge your point of view on how children are bullied based on their religion and how it results to causing trauma and distress that could potenetilay impact the child in the longer run. I would like to link this to the video Burhan showed in his blog where the 7 year old student was repeatedly slapped by his classmates and the teacher encouraged them to hit harder; all just because he belonged to the muslim faith. It is extremely disheartening to see how these innocent children are subjected to violence purely based on their choice of religion. Also you mentioned that the hateful speech is learned at home which is completely true in my opinion. this bring me to…

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Really enjoyed reading this blog, Mahnoor. It is extremely important to consider how religious minorities are completely marginalised when it comes to the education system in Pakistan. Often times, even in classes I've noticed that most of the references or examples given come completely from an islamic point of view especially surrounding cultural practices of marriage, newborns etc. Not for once is it considered that non-muslim students might be a part of classrooms as well and so references that are easily understandable and generalisable across communities must be given. Even in schools, there is an annual trend of Eid Milan parties taking place, however any celebrations pertaining to Holi, Diwali or Christmas are declared haram and looked down upon. Thus,…

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I appreciate your intriguing thoughts regarding the marginalisation of religious minorities in Pakistan. also, I have witnessed that the festivals of other religions such as Diwali, Christmas and Holi are completely shunned in Pakistan and growing up here there wasn't any mention of these festivals in our school settings. I believe that even though these festivals are against the morals of a muslim there isn't any wrong in accepting their festivals by simply just wishing them for their special day. if such a small act of kindness gives them a sense of inclusivity and positivity, it would lead to a more tolerable and positive community as a whole. I feel that one of the reasons why the Muslim community have…

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I think this blogpost is very insightful and relevant to our context as the narrative shared here echoes the stark realities that exist in Pakistan's education system It's disheartening to see a nation that prides itself on diversity and inclusivity allow such discrimination to persist within its educational institutions, which forms a substantial impact on the lives and opportunities of minority students and teachers. I think education should be a tool to dismantle stereotypes and build bridges among communities rather than deepening divides. Moreover, I believe it's not just a matter of education; it's about fostering a society where diversity is celebrated, and every individual, regardless of their religious background, can pursue education without fear of discrimination.

Secondly, I think…

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I would like to side with you on your perspective on the unfortunate reality of ideologies set in the paskitani society regarding religions. I appreciate your recognition of education being a platform where such differences should be erased rather than increased so every child has access to the same opportunities and learning. Furthermore, discrimination seen in the educational sector can be depicted on the society as a whole where these religious minorities are often mistreated in their normal daily lives. There needs to be acceptance of their festivals and way of living so they can feel as important as the muslim community. However, I would like to disagree with your perspective that religion should not be taught in schools. I…

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The revelations about religious discrimination in Pakistan's education system are deeply concerning. Despite initial plans for inclusivity, by 1959, educational policies were intentionally shaped around Islam, excluding minorities like Hindus and Christians. here we must ask how did the nation stray from its early commitment to diversity?

Personal accounts, such as a Christian teacher facing isolation and suspicion, highlight the pervasive discrimination affecting opportunities for minority students and teachers. Should a child's access to quality education be contingent on their religious background?


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Thank you for raising such crucial questions that really talks about the rationale behind the root of this prevalent issue in Pakistan. To address your first question, it is extremely important to ask such troubling question as to why Pakistan did not include its other minority groups. I believe that the level of hatred and resentment that we also see in our history textbooks has resided from the time of the independence. We have always been told that the Hindus and Sikhs tortured and oppressed the muslim community to the extent that the muslims had to create a land of its own where they could live peacefully without being mistreated because of their faith. however this narrative had sprouted hatred…

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