ISLAMABAD   -   Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood on Thursday said that Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education will award certificates to religious seminaries students in future.

The minister said this in a press briefing held here on ‘madrassah reforms’. He said that this had been ‘principally’ agreed between ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and Ittehad Tanzeem-e-Wafaq-ul-Madaris, an alliance of five major religious associations.

He said that in the second meeting held with the ITWM, it was agreed that all compulsory subjects of matriculation and intermediate will be included and taught in the curriculum if religious seminaries.

The minister said that exam of matriculation and intermediate compulsory subjects will be held by the FBISE, while religious seminaries will conduct exams of religious subjects.

However, he said that the FBISSE will be the authority of awarding certificates on consolidated marks obtained in compulsory and religious subjects.

“This has been decided to bring religious seminaries in mainstream,” said the minister.

He said that this measure will open the doors of opportunities for religious seminaries’ students and they will be able to join other professions in the country also. He said that the reforms agreed will likely be implemented in beginning of the next academic year.

He said that an estimated figure of religious seminaries in the country was around 30,000 in which nearly 2.7 million students were enrolled. He said that the ministry was also in contact with religious organizations not under the umbrella of the ITWM.

The minister also said that no religious seminary would be allowed spreading hate speech or anything against state.

“We will taken against any seminary found involved in promoting hate speech,” he said.

Replying to a query regarding religious seminaries’ foreign funding, the federal minister for education said that all transactions would be done through bank accounts and the government would facilitate the seminaries opening their bank accounts. 

However, the minister said that no issue of audit of the funding was discussed in the meeting.

Minister Shafqat Mehmood also said that government would also review the previous exercise done for registration of religious seminaries. He also said that 12 regional centers would be established in the country for facilitation of religious seminaries. “These offices will be established in 6 months,” he said.

He also said that a liaison will be made with provinces also in the process of reforms, but it was wish of the ITWM to negotiate with the federal government which was accepted.

He said that state departments, Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff also backed the negotiations to make them fruitful.

Minister Shafqat Mehmood also said that negotiations with religious seminars were also part of efforts for adopting a uniform education system in the country.

He added that the religious seminaries would be registered as per the form issued, while they would be only affiliated with the ministry of FE&PT and not the ministry. “We don’t want to interfere in their internal matters,” he said.