By Debora Timmer
04/19/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – From a young age, Pakistani schools teach their children to hate Christians and other religious minorities. World Watch Monitor reported that Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) admitted that the government has failed to keep its promise of eradicating religious “hate material” from textbooks used in schools, a promise made after a deadly Taliban attack on a school in 2014.
The Pakistani government’s 20-point “National Action Plan” was created to discourage religious extremism and to minimize, what is seen by many, as a hateful school curriculum. The National Action Plan was drafted in the wake of a Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014. During the attack, 132 students lost their lives to extremist gunmen.
Unfortunately, instead of minimizing hate materials and discouraging religious extremism, the opposite seems to be occurring with a growing trend toward a more biased curriculum and more religious extremism being taught in Pakistan’s public schools. International Christian Concern (ICC) researched Pakistan’s public school curriculums for instances of hate material and found many instances, including the following:
“Because Christian rulers were led by fanatic priests, that war with Muslims is necessary for the protection of cross.”– Class 7th Social Studies.
“They came to a conclusion that Islamic zeal, values and spirit is being destroyed due to effects of non-Muslims.” – Class 9th and 10th Pakistan Studies
“The influence of Christian pastors had increased immensely and they were openly preaching their religion aided by their rule. They freely visit the cities and villages, organized gatherings to describe the qualities of Christianity degraded other religions.” – Class 8th Social Studies
Along with the hate materials in the public school curriculum, there are three other issues ICC discovered which the Pakistani school system allows that segregate Christian and Muslim students, thus increasing an “us versus them” culture.
First, religious classes are required as part of the school curriculum. According to Pakistan’s constitution, which provides for the freedom of religion, schools cannot teach religious materials to students who are not members of that particular faith. For example, Muslim faith-based classes cannot be taught to Christian students. However, most Pakistani universities require Muslim faith-based courses in order for applicants to be admitted. This means that Christians cannot gain access to higher education in most universities unless they have taken the prerequisite Muslim faith-based courses. This requirement prioritizes the study and importance of Islam over other faiths.
Second, Christians are sometimes inhibited from accessing education entirely by biased and intolerant school staff who are allowed to retain their jobs despite complaints. In Pakistan, like most American schools, the school day begins around 8:00 in the morning. However, eight Christian girls attending one school ICC surveyed were required to arrive an hour early in order to clean the entire school before classes begin. After the cleaning was finished, they were forced to rush home to retrieve their uniforms. Unfortunately, that is not where the abuse ended. Once the first school hour concluded, the Christian girls were forced to leave the classroom, put on work clothes, and clean their teacher’s homes before the school day concluded.
The third and final dynamic of Christian persecution is that Christian students are sometimes singled out and abused during school. For example, in 2016, ICC implemented a project that assisted the family of a Christian student who incurred medical expenses after her teacher physically abused her. During class, a biased Muslim teacher demanded that the Christian student convert to Islam. When the student refused, the teacher beat her with a cricket bat, causing a fractured wrist.
In response to Christian persecution in Pakistan’s school system, ICC has helped many Christian families. Whether covering the medical expenses of Christian students who are abused in school or helping Christian families afford to send their children to private Christian schools where their children will be treated fairly, ICC has made it a priority to serve these persecuted children. ICC requests continuous prayer for our suffering brothers and sisters and for the flourishing of Christian students in Pakistan.