Pakistan announces religious school reform

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said it has agreed with the country´s clergy to introduce reforms in madrassa religious schools to bring them in line with conventional schools, curbing hate speech and extremist narratives.

The announcement came just before Prime Minister Imran Khan´s visit to Washington for a Monday meeting with President Donald Trump.

The government will register more than 30,000 madrassas, which will teach subjects like English, mathematics and science, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood said.

He said the government will conduct their exams and is aiming for a first batch next June, although that is not a firm goal.

“There will be no preaching of hate speech against any religion or sect,” the minister said.

“We will look at their curriculum to see there is no hatred against any sect or faith,” he added.

Pakistan pledged to crack down on religious seminaries suspected of fostering extremism following a school massacre by the Taliban in December 2014 that left more than 130 children dead, but the move faces stiff resistance from conservatives.

Madrassa reforms attempted by the past governments have failed due to pressure from the clergy.

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