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  • Knox Thames

Pakistan's Education Reform

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Can Pakistan's Education System Teach Inter-faith Tolerance?


A thoughtful Express Tribune article highlighted Pakistan's attempt to create a national curriculum. Of the many challenges and opportunities, the author highlights concerns about whether teaching methods on religion will lead to more extremism or less.


After reading the article, and based on my own engagement in Pakistan on education, here are my questions about reform:

  • Will the new curriculum increase the protection and social inclusion of religious minorities?

  • Will it teach equal rights regardless of sect or creed?

  • Will reforms soften the strong Islamization of education that began in the late 1970s under Zia-Ul Haq?

  • And will any of the provinces follow? The 18th Amendment devolved education to the provinces and away from Islamabad.

Leading Pakistanis have been pressing for a more inclusive education system for years. Teacher training is critical in this effort. Changing the "hardware" of textbooks is easy compared to upgrading the "software" of teacher attitudes and capabilities (and reforming textbooks is never easy). It will take political leadership and courage. When teachers innovate, they have been targeted.


Overall, Pakistan faces many challenges to simply meet the basic education needs for their children. But it is also critical Pakistan's education system prepare students to live in their diverse society and successfully engage an increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-religious world.

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