Imran Khan will be ruining the entire educational system if he was to give practical shape to his newfangled views on education.
On Wednesday the PTI chief told a group of religious scholars that the mainstreaming of seminaries and introducing uniform syllabi and curriculum in the education sector was among his priorities.
The views betray Khan’s ignorance of the ground realities. Uniform syllabi and curriculum is theoretically possible only in mainstream educational institutions. In seminaries run by different sects it would be simply disastrous to attempt to introduce uniform syllabi and curriculum.
The seminaries are established for an altogether different purpose than the mainstream educational institutions. A seminary is meant to produce prayer leaders, preachers and clerics who can teach children to recite Quran or learn it by rote. Seminarians undertaking further studies become “muftis” of their particular sects authorised to issue religious edicts. No fee is charged from seminary students as these are financed through donations from local population or from charities in the Gulf. The compulsory subjects in seminaries include Arabic, exegesis of Quran, study of books related to Hadith and Fiqah or Islamic jurisprudence. This consumes the best part of the seminarian’s day. Recently some of the seminaries have introduced subjects taught in mainstrean schools. These are generally treated as marginal subjects.
The mainstream educational institutions produce manpower needed to run a modern state tlike civil servants, doctors, engineers, architects, scientists, lawyers, IT specialists, etc. The students in schools and colleges normally spend six hours a day in learning. As they reach higher classes the time devoted to studies increases. Students in mainstream educational institutions have to pay for their studies. Religious education is a marginal subject in these institutions.
The way out is to treat the two educational systems separately. More important is to divert more funds to upgrade the assets of the educational institutions run by the government to bring them at par with the private institutions.
They badly need well-paid and well educated teachers, libraries and science laboratories. Religious education should be left to the families as was the case in the past. Isn’t Imran Khan a deeply religious person without ever studying at a seminary?