ISLAMABAD - It has been decided in a meeting on Tuesday to form a working group for the mainstreaming of religious seminaries by introducing primary education there.

State Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, Balighur Rehman, said the working group having representation of all stakeholders would be formed that would work to review educational system of religious seminaries to introduce contemporary subjects and resolve registration issues. The meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf while State Minister Pir Aminul Hasnaat, federal minister for education and professional training and Ulema of all schools of thought also attended the meeting.

Giving presentation on the three years pilot project, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Balighur Rehman said 100 feeder schools would be established all over the country in mosques and the teachers would be paid Rs 12,000 per month honoraria.

However, the officials from various ministries objected on the paltry number of schools for the whole country and suggested that the number should be increased. Prominent Ulema representing major schools of Islamic jurisprudence also approved the project for implementation.  

The Ulema in the meeting agreed to adopt compulsory subjects taught in the government schools and Dars-e-Nizami will be taught in the religious seminaries as an optional subject.

Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, chairman of Central Roet-e-Hilal Committee and President Tanzeem-ul-Madaris, said religious seminaries would endorse and implement the decisions taken for the security and peace of the country. Referring to the statements issued by the politicians and government officials that “some 10 percent religious seminaries are bad that spread extremism whereas 90 percent are good,” the meeting said that such statements should be avoided.  And if the government has some proofs against such religious seminaries they should be notified and action should be taken against them, but not all the institutions be blamed.   

Regarding the registration of religious seminaries, the Ulema said the process of registration was going on and they had no issue in registration of religious seminaries instead the offices at the district levels delay the registration, as thousands of applications have been lying pending with them for registration. They also talked about the problems being faced by them in opening bank accounts. If government accounts are opened the source of funding of religious seminaries would atomically be disclosed to the government, they said, instead hurdles are being created and unnecessary conditions are set that bar the religious seminaries to avoid opening of bank accounts.

Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia Secretary General Qari Hanif Jalandry said he tried to meet the governor state bank to discuss the issues faced by the seminaries but he did not give him time.  

He said the harassment of religious seminaries should be stopped immediately in the name of registration and the term of education reforms should be used instead of religious seminaries reforms.  “Seminaries are already mainstreamed and there is a need to mainstream schools influenced by Western culture. Seminaries have never closed the doors of reforms but things that have been decided should not be made controversial again”.  He also condemned the way religious seminaries are being discussed after Army Public School attack on December 16.

The Ulema also regretted that the courses offered at seminaries are not being recognised by the government institutions and boards. They called for declaring seminary degrees equivalent to formal education degrees.