Faisalabad (FIdes Agency) - "In Pakistan we are witnessing the failure of the educational system. The death of Sharon Masih, the Christian student lynched by his classmates with the utmost indifference of the teachers’ is a clear sign of this failure. There is a climate of hatred towards non-Muslims, the school environment is deteriorating. Christian and Hindu children are victims of Muslim students but also of teachers": this is the strong complaint submitted to Agenzia Fides by Anjum James Paul, Pakistani Catholic professor and president of the "Pakistani Minorities Teachers' Association" (PMTA). Anjum James Paul was a schoolmate of Shahbaz Bhatti, the murdered Catholic minister, and shared his commitment to human rights and the promotion of religious minorities in the country. Today he leads an association that carries out research and elaborates studies and documents, collaborating with the Pakistan Ministry of Education.
Anjum James Paul tells Fides: "In 14 years of research, which we have always submitted to the government, we can say with certainty that intolerance in public school is widespread and Sharon's murder is a clear example. There are prejudices and hatred towards religious minorities that are instilled through textbooks adopted in public schools that promote contempt against other religions. It is necessary to promote coexistence and tolerance in all schools, starting from younger children. This educational system has a strong impact on the formation and minds of young people, hence on the whole society. We already pointed it out in our 'White Book on education' published more or less ten years ago.
The president continues: "In recent years, there has been some progress and positive changes, but not enough has been done. There is a context of institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims that is very dangerous. It is urgent to cut the roots of extremism and to promote a global reform of school curricula with greater attention and commitment. Ideal references are: the famous 1947 speech by Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, on the protection and freedom of religious minorities; and also the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that on 19 June 2014 ordered the Pakistani government to commit itself and to take concrete measures to protect and promote religious minorities, guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/9/2017)