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Speakers call for strict monitoring of religious groups, varsities’, mosques

Speakers call for strict monitoring of religious groups, varsities’, mosques


LAHORE: Speakers at a two-day conference on Thursday unanimously recommended that involvement of religious groups should be very strictly monitored and mosques in universities should be monitored so that they do not preach the thoughts of a particular sect.

The recommendations were compiled under the supervision of chairperson of PHEC Dr Nizamuddin at a conference on promotion of peace and tolerance at university campuses of the Punjab’ organized by the Working Group for Promotion of Peace and Tolerance of Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC). Vice Chancellors (VCs), Director Student Affairs (DSA), intellectuals and representatives of 27 public sector universities of the Punjab participated in the conference.

It was also recommended that ban on student unions is commendable and it should be extended to faculty unions and staff unions as well. We need to adopt a holistic approach towards primary, secondary and tertiary level education.

Courses like professional ethics, moral values, citizenship activism should be introduced and content of Islamic studies and Pak Studies should be revised.

The Working Group also recommended that social sciences disciplines (Art & Culture, languages, humanities) should be promoted and more attention should be paid to these disciplines instead of tilted focus on natural science, material sciences and technology.

Understanding of theory, philosophy of science and history of science should be introduced as disciplines which are imperative for understanding of social relations.

It was recommended that there should be complete ban on political, sectarian, racial, and ethnic activities in campuses. The university administration should adopt the policy of merit without any prejudice and bias, maintain accountability and provide justice with compassion. Government should support the decisions taken by university administration to maintain peace on the campus.

The Working Group also called for creating an alternate narrative instead of overemphasizing on counter narrative. Interdisciplinary approach should be adopted and broad based subjects in order to provide opportunity for students to study, understand and discuss the issues of the society. Active Citizenship programme (ACP) and character building societies should be established.

Addressing the concluding session of the conference Syed Raza Ali Gillani, provincial minister for higher education Punjab, appreciated the organizers and emphasized the exigency of peace and tolerance in university campuses across the province. He said that we need to preach the norms of plurality, diversity and peaceful coexistence and a university is the best place to begin with.

“Marginalized voices are needed to be accepted and included in the mainstream debate on peace and tolerance in the society,” he said stressing the need to develop our own counter violence strategy involving all the stakeholders including cultural and religious minorities of our society. He also assured his support to universities and Punjab Higher Education Commission in implementing plans for promoting peace and tolerance.

Expressing his concern over the sale and use of drugs at university campuses the minister suggested vice chancellors to form committees and make recommendations to curb this unhealthy practice.

Dr. Muhammad Nizamuddin, chairperson Punjab Higher Education Commission, said tolerance is very important for the development of mental faculties of our university students. “We should develop and revive academic societies at our universities to tackle the issue of sporadic student groups in order to engage them in positive campus based activities.”

He added that though it is important to teach the students about peace in classrooms but we also need to focus beyond the classroom. “We need to work on improving the curriculum rather than syllabi. We should engage our students in extra-curricular activities and debates, speeches and sports,” said Dr. Nizam.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Rauf-e-Azam, vice chancellor of University of Education Lahore and the convener of Punjab Higher Education Commission Working Group also emphasized the importance of tolerance at university campuses.

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