A Senate panel on Tuesday approved the Quran Education Bill 2017 which would make it compulsory for schools to impart Quranic teachings up to the higher secondary level.
The bill, already approved by the National Assembly, will now be presented in the Senate for the final parliamentary approval.
State Minister for Education Balighur Rehman, while briefing the Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training on the bill, said that the law would make it compulsory for students to sight-read the Quran from grade-I through to grade-V. The second part of the bill requires students to study simple translations of the Holy Quran in grades VI to grade XII.
However, he clarified that the compulsions under the bill do not apply to non-Muslim students.
The proposed bill would have been limited to the schools and colleges within the Islamabad Capital Territory, Rehman said, adding that all the provinces had also agreed to adopt the bill.
The committee, meeting with Senator Noman Wazir Khattak in the chair, appreciated that teaching of the Holy Quran was now compulsory and approved the bill.
The committee also discussed the disparities in the salaries of National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) teachers. NCHD Chairperson Zareena Aalam said that teachers in community schools, who are considered to be providing part-time or voluntary services, are paid between Rs5,000 to Rs8,000.
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On this, Senator Sehar Kamran remarked that if the government can invest in mega projects, then why can the government not provide teachers with at least the national minimum wage.
Senator Nuzhat Sadiq said that salaries for community teachers should be increased and that such teachers should be properly trained. Senator Khattak endorsed the view that such teachers should be at least paid the minimum wage.
Senator Azam Swati has raised questions about the endowment fund, which had been established through foreign donations.
On this Rehman admitted that they had run into problems implementing the programme owing to a lack of coordination between the board established for it and the NCHD.
The committee subsequently tasked Rehman to coordinate between all the parties involved, including foreign donors, board for endowment and the NCHD.
Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq urged the committee to discuss her calling-to-attention-notice on equivalence certificates issued to O’ and A’-Level students by the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC).
She claimed that the equivalence was issued per flawed formulae due to which students clearing the Cambridge University-administered exams cannot compete in medical and engineering universities. The committee, however, said that the matter should be referred to the inter-provincial committee.
Reporter. Senate panel approves Quranic teaching bill. The Express Tribune, July 12, 2017.