It was advocate Zubair Ali Khaskheli who filed the petition to urge the government to introduce the teaching of human rights in schools.
“If you look at the syllabus taught in the Pakistani schools, there is no concept of the fundamental human rights as such. There was a lack of this thing. So, I thought it is necessary, in order to promote the rule of law, because when the people know about their rights then they will follow them and there will be implementation.”
Last month, the Sindh High Court ordered the government to introduce human rights as a subject in public schools.
The new subject will be taught from the 5th grade starting in 2015.
Zubair Ali Khaskheli believes that creating early awareness about human rights can promote peace and tolerance.
“At the young age when you learn something it gets into your character. Only then you’re willing and ready to assert it.”
Amnesty International has long been concerned about human rights violations in Pakistan – arbitrary detention, torture, death in custody, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions are rampant.
Pakistan’s Human Rights Ministry has reported more than 8,000 cases of human rights violations during the past 20 months – mostly in Sindh Province.
Zohra Yusuf is chairperson of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission.
“We publish an annual report. It covers everything right from the children, women, labor, what’s happening in freedom of expression, freedom of association. So, I think all forms of rights are behind violated. People are being picked up on the suspicion of being militants and made to disappear. There’s a lot of disappearances from the Swat that has happened after the army operation there.
The commission wants to see a serious effort from the government to implement the court’s verdict.
“There should be a panel that can make recommendations to the government after reviewing the curriculum, introducing these concepts at appropriate levels – at what stage what can be introduced. I think a lot of international conventions also need to be introduced. Of course we would support this initiative.”
Sindh Human Rights Minister Nadia Gabol, says the government has been working on the initiative for years.
“We need to spread the human rights awareness in the middle class people, who are low educated and don’t know what their rights are. I’m going to speak to the Minister and make sure and we’re going to make sure it comes in the syllabus as human rights subject not in the private schools, but the government schools where the middle class people study.”
As a school teacher, Shabana Majid says they’re ready.
“It’s good decision. This will make the students aware of their rights at a younger age. We also teach them about living in peace, but what we’re teaching is old fashioned. There must be new things included in the curriculum to meet the challenges of the present day.”
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