Oct 5, 2007

Extremism and Pakistan's Education system?

Christian Fair (her work), Senior research associate at USIP, looks at the connections between Pakistan’s religious schools (madaris) and militancy in Pakistan.

She writes that contrary to popular belief, madrasah students are not all poor and madaris are not categorically tied to militancy. Madaris—along with mosques and public proselytizing events (tabligh)—are, however, “gathering” places where militant groups, religious ideologues, and potential recruits can interact. Religious leaders of some madaris issue edicts (fatwas) that justify the use of violence, and a small number of madaris are used for militant training. Limited evidence suggests that madrasah students more strongly support jihad than those of public or private schools—but public school students, who comprise 70% of Pakistan’s enrolled students, also have high levels of support for violence.

She rightly concludes that Pakistan’s entire education system requires comprehensive reform; such reform may be beyond Pakistan’s capability and there may be only limited scope for the United States to help. Increased participation by multinational organizations and demand for accountability by all partners are required to complete this daunting task. The costs of failure
are too high to countenance.

She further adds, Madaris merit continual observation as they may contribute both to the demand for terrorism and to the limited supply of militants. For the same reasons, Pakistan’s public school sector deserves much more attention than it currently enjoys. full report

1 comment:

South Asian said...

Christine Fair is right to argue that Pakistan's entire public education system needs to be reformed.

The International Coalition for Education Reform in Pakistan (http://icerp.wordpress.com) has been formed to advocate the needed reform.

The South Asian Idea (http://thesouthasianidea.com)has been designed as a learning resource for college students in Pakistan.