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01/27/2024 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – The Pakistani government has decided that non-Muslim students will no longer be required to study Islam in school. The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training announced earlier this week that a new curriculum will be introduced during the 2024-2025 academic school year, making Islamic studies non-compulsory for Christian students. Students from first through 12th grade will soon be allowed to study the religion of their family.

This decision is a small win for religious freedom in Pakistan, where Christians are routinely subjected to blasphemy laws, mob violence, and forced marriage and conversion.

The curriculum for Christian students includes a comprehensive study of the Bible, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, core Christian beliefs, Church history, and a study of inspirational Christian figures. Students will also study the influence of Christianity in Pakistan, specifically the ministry of St. Thomas the Apostle and his ministry to South Asia.

Ironically, the curriculum also includes lessons on Christian values like martyrdom. Christian students will learn about heroes of the faith like Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minorities Minister, who was murdered in 2011 after speaking out against persecuted Christians in Pakistan.

The Chairman of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association, Anjum James Paul, said, “This is a great victory for Pakistan’s religious minorities as we have been fighting for equitable education for the last two decades. After appealing to various governments, institutions, and the superior courts, the Pakistan government has finally recognized this right of minority students and exempted them from studying Islam as a compulsion.”

While the new curriculum offers some relief for Pakistan’s religious minorities, many challenges lie ahead. Since Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country, it will take time for teachers to be adequately trained on the new curriculum and for a Christian studies textbook to be approved. ICC prays that Muslim students, teachers, and administrators would come to know Christ through this.

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