–Around 60% non-Muslim students feel being discriminated and disrespected
–70% of non-Muslim teachers faced discrimination based on their faith
ISLAMABAD: Alarming discrimination in educational institutions based on religion, faith or belief has been found in the newly launched report on ‘education and inequality’. The report called for radical shift and reforms in legislation and urged the need for teachers training and behavioral transformation of society as a whole.
The launch of the report titled “Education and Inequality: Discerning the Foundation of Citizenry”, was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here at Islamabad. The report was jointly conducted by The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and The Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities (IDRAC).
The report revealed that around 60% non-Muslim students experience or feel being discriminated and disrespected, whereas, 70% of the non-Muslim teachers faced discrimination based on their faith.
Similarly, 72% of the parents reported that their children are being discriminated in schools/colleges because of their faith-based identity. The study was conducted in 5 select districts of Punjab, including Bahawalpur, Multan, Khanewal, Nankana Sahib and Gujranwala, where around 200 non-Muslim students, 40 teacher and 40 parents were consulted to collect the data.
While presenting the findings of the report, Executive Director, the Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities (IDRAC) and lead author of the report Amjad Nazeer, said that in order to revolutionize the society, there is a dire need of taking reforms measures to end inequality and religious discrimination in our educational institutions. “There is a rise in incidents of discrimination in educational institutions based on religion, faith or believe”, he said adding there are different political, historical, academic and religious elements which are responsible for collective societal discriminatory behaviour towards non-Muslim minorities of the society.
Amjad Nazeer said that owing to fear and threat to life more than two-third of the affected individuals (about 80%), including students and teachers, never bothered to lodge a complaint. He urged the need for establishing a specialized body to redress the grievances and discrimination against non-Muslim communities. Also, there is a need to educate the society to ensure religious tolerance, he stressed.
Nasreen Azhar, Human Rights Activist and Council Member of HRCP said over the years religious tolerance is on decline and rise in bigotry in our society. “It is unfortunate that the discrimination prevails at all level of the society and there is a state of denial on such extreme level of discrimination”, she lamented adding unless we accept and acknowledge the problem, we cannot resolve the issue. She called upon the government to initiate stringent reforms to end all kind of discrimination and build a society based on the principle of tolerance and equality.
Jennifer J, Jivan, Executive Director Christian Study Center (CSC) said the findings and case presented in the report shows the level of fragmentation in the society which is fast spreading in around Pakistan. She said there is a need to change the negative mindset of the society through effective reforms measure at basic education level. She urged the government to implement the international conventions and treaties, which Pakistan signed and ratified, regarding elimination of all kind of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.
Ahmed Saleem, renowned progressive writer, historian and poet said that to ensure equal rights for every citizen and to end all form of discrimination, we need drastic changes in the constitutions. “There should be an open debate in the parliament for drastic reforms in the constitutions”, he stressed adding it is now the responsibility of all of us, especially the intellectual class of the society, to strive for a tolerant and progressive society. Moazzam Shareef Bhatti, Director Advocacy and Outreach, SDPI while moderating the seminar said that the report is a good contribution to the literature and will help the policy makers for informed decision making. He said inequalities, discrimination and intolerance remained a major challenge of country which requires urgent attention to ensure a peaceful society.