Towards a rights-based multi-religious curriculum? The case of Pakistan
Islamic education is a central pivot of Pakistan’s educational system; it is taught as a separate subject and purposefully included in many other subjects. The State uses Islam to manage public morality and national identity and there is a ‘functionalisation’ (Starrett, 1998) of religious education. A culturally lived tradition is transformed into a pedagogical practice based on narrow interpretations of sacred texts and religious doctrine. Aligning religious and national identity necessarily others those who fall outside of this nexus. The current government prioritises curricular reform predicated on a political commitment to create a unified and inclusive education system. The proposed reforms include curricula for five other religions, potentially addressing some human rights demands for educational equality for religious minorities. Unpacking the historical roots of education’s Islamization and the socio-political motivations behind the current reforms, we conduct a content analysis of the draft curricula and interview stakeholders to situate the implications of these reforms for Pakistan.
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