Saturday, 30 June 2007

On Madressah Reforms

Previously I've written about what constituted madressah reforms in Pakistan. Today we learn from Dawn that the latest instalment of Rs. 500 million that was to be handed out to Madressahs to fund "reforms" has been stopped. Why? This is what Dawn had to say:
"The five year multi-billion 'Madressah Reforms' project launched in 2002-03 has completely failed to achieve its objective of bringing madressah at par with the regular school system of the country, sources in the planning commission told Dawn."

The five year project has reached its completion date today. The man in charge of this programme and responsible for the disbursement of the funds is the ignoble Ejaz-ul-Haq. The same gentleman, whose comments about Rushdie's knighthood had drawn protest from the British government. In response the ignoble one had this to say:

“It is surprising that the British government is criticising me. I am the one who is heading the front-line ministry for the front-line state in the war against terrorism,” Haq told AFP. “I never supported suicide attacks. What I meant to say yesterday (in the parliament) was that we are trying to curb extremism, but their (British) actions are adding fuel to the fire and not helping,” Haq said.. “Instead of praising the efforts, the British government has chosen to criticise. It is surprising.”

Yes, it is surprising Mr. Ejaz-ul Haq. Especially since the vast sums of money you have passed out to your Mullah cronies in fact has mostly come from grants of foreign aid from the British government. You seem to have, alas, an all too inflated sense of your own achievements as commander of the front-line in the war against terrorism.

To a large degree the edifice of state education that was established in the eighties is corrupt and poisonous to the social, economic and spiritual well-being of the nation. Reform is a worthy end, but one that needs to be thoughtfully understood. What are we reforming? How? What benchmarks are to be set? When the national curriculum installed by the Zia regime is itself designed to create fantacisim, stunt creativity and incite hatred, what expectations can we have of the state-sponsored madressah education system that benefits from the government allotted zakat tax?

Funnily enough, it was Nawaz Sharif, not the most enlightened of men, who had embarked on a process of beginning to tackle the state education problem. The process had led to the publication of a proposal of substantial reform written by a panel of experts in the field. After the Musharaf coup the proposal was shelved and the wheel is only now being reinvented eight years later.

Meanwhile billions are poured into shoring up a rotten madressah system whose entire purpose when it was created in the eighties was to stoke the flames of hatred against 'enemies' of Islam - who in those days were the enemies of the state. Its not that the money being spent is doing no good. It is actually doing harm. Flushing it all down the toilet would have probably been of greater benefit to the human race.


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