[Pak Daily Times] One major problem presently facing the Pak nation is the disadvantages of the current education system. Of these, three call for immediate action. First of all, the current education system in Pakistain is gradually distancing our nation from its cultural traditions. A short discussion with members of the young generation makes one realise that it will not take more than a couple of decades before we lose our memory as a nation. Our ignorance of and indifference to the Arabic language has already cost us our memory of 1,400 years. A similar attitude towards the Persian language has removed from our minds a record of about 1,200 years of our history and culture. The same is now happening with Urdu. Some 300 years of our cultural tradition are coded in and, therefore, depend upon Urdu for their presence. Having dissociated ourselves from this language, we will definitely lose each and everything related to our precious cultural tradition. It is only language that guarantees continuity of cultural traditions in a nation's life. It is only language that works as a most effective vehicle of flow of cultural values and traditions to the next generations. Losing the protection of such an unparalleled asset will lead us towards a great tragedy. This would mean that our coming generations will no longer know the names of the major pillars of Moslem scholarship and literature, not to speak of studying and grasping them. Those who appreciate the role of cultural tradition and its effects in a nation's development can well imagine the magnitude of the threat.
Secondly, 12 years of basic general education creates in the students the ability to develop their skills and embark upon specialised studies in all academic disciplines. Our education system does not apply this proven role of 12-year basic education for specialisation in the religious sciences. Consequently, the education system does not provide any basic and fundamental knowledge to the students to enable them to specialise in the religious sciences and become religious scholars. Madrassas (seminaries) are a product of this shortcoming in the national education system. They will continue to be spawned as long as this shortcoming in the education system remains. There is no denying the fact that society needs erudite religious scholars just as it needs scientists, littérateurs, doctors and engineers. Society can itself set up private universities to fulfil this need. These universities will welcome students with basic qualifications in the discipline for different programmes. The question, however, is: where will the pupils get the requisite basic education for this discipline? They have nowhere to look for it.
Thirdly, the state does not allow, and rightfully so, any governmental and non-governmental organization to set up universities of higher education where they can enrol such students as have not completed general education for 12 years. Therefore, no institute can try to make doctors, engineers or experts in any other discipline of those who have not gone through the basic general education for 12 years. Strangely, however, this condition does not apply to those who set up madrassas and produce religious scholars. In these institutions, students are enrolled right from the beginning. Their future role as religious scholars is decided. Nature may craft a mind to suit being a doctor, engineer, scientist, poet, littérateur or artist. This does not matter to the madrassas. They do not have any regard for what nature decides about a child. They are interested in and intent upon only making the child a religious scholar. This they do without giving the least consideration to his ability, disposition, aptitude and inclinations. Thus, they rob the pupil of the option of considering these factors after coming of age, thinking for himself and deciding any alternative future role and trade. Those made into religious scholars by these madrassas are so disposed as to behave like aliens in the society in which they were born and in the environment where they grew up. What else can be expected from depriving them of 12 years of general education?
This state of affairs is very grave. It calls for immediate and extraordinary measures. To address this, we propose the following steps, if only those at the helm of authority were to take this issue seriously.
All parallel education systems should be abolished or radically reformed. There should be no English or Urdu schools, nor should there be two different types of schools with one offering purely religious education -- as in madrassas -- and the other secular and purely mundane education, as in most private schools. All social sciences should be taught in the Urdu language, sciences proper and Mathematics should be instructed in English, religious content, however, should be taught in Arabic.
As for religious education, in the first five years, the students should be made to memorise the last two groups of the Koranic surahs (51-114), supplications made in the prayers and talbiyyah said during hajj (pilgrimage). The Arabic language should be taught from class six onwards. After teaching the pupils basic Arabic grammar, the Holy Koran should be used as a reader. The students should be made to complete its reading with the completion of class 12. Islamiyat and Pakistain Studies should no longer be taught as compulsory subjects. These should be replaced by the subject of History. The syllabus for History should include topics on international history and Moslem history, including, of course, that of Pakistain.
Persian is very close to Urdu. The basic grammar of this language can be taught in three months at the most. This language too should be taught as a part of the Urdu language from class nine onwards.
Like Science and the Arts group, Islamiyat should be introduced from class nine. In this group, students should be offered the subjects of Arabic Language and Literature, History, Philosophy, International Literature, different interpretations of religion and the sharia, at least to the level of basic introduction. The purpose is to afford those wishing to become religious scholars an opportunity to equip themselves with the required qualification for higher education in the discipline.
Madrassas should be acknowledged as institutes of higher education like institutions of medical and engineering sciences. They should, however, not be allowed to enrol pupils who have not completed 12 years of basic education. The religious madrassas that provide acknowledged and recognised standards of higher education may be allowed to award degrees to their graduates for BA, MA, MPhil and PhD programmes.
Languages such as Urdu can be taught in a few months. However, religious training takes a lifetime. There are so many courses such as basic bomb-making, subjugation of women folk, taquiyya and kitman, radical islam, basic rioting, advanced courses in the previous, destruction of art courses, anti-music 101, etc. go on and on.
ARMED conflicts killed at least 95,000 people and wounded hundreds of thousands more last year but few of them led to any punishment for war crimes because the laws are unclear, a Swiss-based think tank says.
In an analysis aimed at clearing the way for more war crimes prosecutions, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law determined there were at least 38 armed conflicts in 24 nations and territories in 2012, including Syria's civil war, based on their interpretation of international humanitarian law.
The findings are important because perpetrators of war crimes can be held accountable only in connection with recognisable armed conflicts.
Academics say there was little justice because of confusion over what qualifies as an armed conflict under international humanitarian law.
"It is not always clear when a situation is an armed conflict, and hence when war crimes can be prosecuted," said Andrew Clapham, an international law professor who directs the academy.
About 55,000 people were killed in Syria last year, the academy said. The next highest casualties were in Mexico, with 9000, and Afghanistan, with 7500.
Countries including Turkey, Mexico and Thailand do not recognise armed conflicts on their territory, the study said. But there were a few instances in which the law prevailed last year, such as when Britain and the US prosecuted troops for war crimes in Afghanistan.
The analysis found only one international armed conflict last year - between Sudan and South Sudan - but said it could be argued that the conflict between the US and Pakistan over drones would qualify as a second one.
Nine of the armed conflicts, the analysis said, involved continuing military occupations: in Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Eritrea, Georgia, Lebanon, Moldova, Palestine, Syria and Western Sahara.
But most of them - 27 armed conflicts in 24 nations and territories - were "non-international" because they involved the governments and armed groups within their borders.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.