Taking notice of an electronic and social media campaign against one of the most prominent private schools in Lahore for introducing ‘Comparative Religion’ as a subject in its syllabus, the Punjab government on Friday ordered authorities to seize and eliminate all reading material related to the course.
The provincial government also constituted a committee to review ‘objectionable material’ in the syllabi of all private educational institutions across the province.
The committee is headed by Secretary Education (Schools) Abdul Jabbar Shaheen and comprises Punjab Textbook Board Chairman Nawazish Ali and Punjab Curriculum Authority Chairman Saleem Akhtar Kiani.
Addressing a press conference, Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan said the committee would propose necessary modification in the current syllabus being taught in different institutions at school level.
“No one would be allowed to change the basic ideology of the education system of Pakistan and stern action would be initiated against the people behind such a conspiracy,” said the minister.
The controversy started when a branch of the prestigious Lahore Grammar School (LGS-55 Main), introduced a subject titled ‘Comparative Religion’, which aims to “educate about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism”.
The course received considerable backlash, gaining mainstream attention following an episode of in a local TV channel’s talk show on September 16.
The school was accused of attempting to convert students to other religions, as well as ridding Islamiat from the curriculum following the sixth grade.
Clarifying the school’s stance on the subject following the backlash, Mrs Nasreen Shah, the principal of LGS-55 Main, posted a message on the official Facebook page of the school:
“Our institution believes in inculcating values such as tolerance and empathy in all our students. ‘Comparative religion’ is essentially a ‘history of religion’. It is NOT merely comparing religions; we aim to educate about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism – and their fundamental teachings. Doing so, we believe, will enlighten our students about the importance of ‘peaceful coexistence.”