Youth Conference: Speakers for a comprehensive reorientation of youth policy – Pakistan

KARACHI: Speakers at Friday’s seminar insisted that the country’s current education system is flawed and that there is a need for a complete reorientation of youth policy to end violent tendencies and promote critical thinking as well as reasoning between them.

They said so at the launch of the report “How Sindh Youth View State, Society, Religion and Politics” released Friday by the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS). Legislators, academics, students, journalists, human rights activists and civil society representatives participated in the event.

The report is based on a three-pronged evaluation comprising workshops providing Sindh youth with an open forum to share their views and observations, and pre- and post-event surveys conducted by PIPS.

Veteran journalist and intellectual Ghazi Salahuddin said education was the only way to provide equal opportunities to citizens. “Education is supposed to be an equalizer, but it has become a divider in Pakistan.”

Kapil Dev, a rights activist, said the state slogan was not inclusive as it represented only the majority. “The state should make its slogan inclusive. This could help young people become diverse and inclusive.

Senior journalist Wusatullah Khan said the class difference has increased following the rapid growth of private schools in the country’s education sector. He stressed that policy makers should address this issue.

Earlier, Muhammad Amir Rana, Executive Director of PIP, in his opening remarks said that the aim of the exercise was to identify the gaps in the education system and the problems facing the youth. “The goal is to share the same with policy makers and legislators to help them make necessary changes in the curriculum and introduce new policies for the benefit of the youth,” he said.

PIPS program manager Ahmed Ali shared the report’s findings with participants. The report highlights that Sindh, Pakistan’s second largest province, has seen an upsurge in incidents of violence against religious, sectarian and ethnic minorities since the turn of the 21st century. The province, which has the largest Hindu population in the country, is also grappling with issues such as forced conversion of Hindu girls and vandalism of Hindu temples, according to the study report.

The research study indicates that there is a massive need to improve the education system by making lessons more interactive and inclusive. The curriculum should be sensitive to minority representation and should encourage critical and rational thinking among young people, he adds.

“Teaching of the key articles and provisions of the Constitution, including those relating to fundamental rights and basic functions of the state, should be an integral part of the curriculum.”

The report says teachers should be trained to “create a more inclusive environment in the classroom”. It indicates that the discussion of women’s empowerment and gender rights should extend beyond recognizing the economic and political rights of women and the transgender community to more sensitive issues of the societal treatment of these groups. The state should adopt a vigorous response to hate speech directed against religious and sectarian minorities, the study concludes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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