KARACHI: Students belonging to minority communities are reluctant to study Islamic Studies or either Ethics, because of the unavailability of teachers to teach them their own religious related subjects instead of Islamic studies in schools, Daily Times has learnt. Although, Sindh Text Book Board (STBB) has included ‘Ethics’ subject for non Muslims students to its curriculum since April 2016, but Schools Education Department, Sindh, has failed to appoint teachers for a separate course of Ethics in the schools, while some of the non- Muslim students are interested to study Islamic Studies but Muslim teachers are unwilling to teach them Quran’s verses. In addition, Islamiat (Islamic Studies) is a compulsory subject for every Muslim student in state-run schools across the country but non Muslim students are deprived of alternate subject of their own religions. “Islamic Studies was not a compulsory subject in Pakistan until 1975 but later, it was declared compulsory, resulting that a large number of minority students are being forced to study Islamic Studies even today, Salim Michael, a legal adviser to the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) said, that blasphemy threat has remained for non Muslims students permanently. The textbooks on ethics are dictated with Islamic perspectives and are taught in the same way. Students belonging to the minority communities face prejudice because of the elective subjects being taught. The textbooks on ethics which has been introduced in 2016 syllabus are not available in markets and there no teachers available in the schools for this subject. While Ethics is not a part of the religious education of minority students, he added. However, stance of the Hindu community is completely different, they have praise the government’s decision of introducing Ethics as a subject for religious minorities instead of Islamic Studies. “There is a need to introduce a curriculum inclusive of best practices or teaching of all religions for a pluralistic society. In a Muslim majority and Islamic country, Muslim students are learning about religion in home, society, and schools, but are not getting an opportunity to read and understand about other religions for comparative analysis”, Kapil Dev, a human rights activist, questioned that why Ethics should only be taught to Hindus, Christians or Sikhs students, it should be taught to Muslim students as well. By doing so, all of the student would understand better of each other creeds. Ethics, which the STBB has added to syllabus, contains lessons from different religions. However, biased and insulting words used against Hindus have not been removed from text books, which mean that discrimination against the religious minorities in not being eradicated, he further added. “We believe in interfaith, non-Muslim students should also acquire knowledge about every religion but as Muslims are studying Islamic Studies, non-Muslims should have also the right to study their own religion related syllabus”, Sardar Ramesh Singh, Chief patron of the Pakistan Sikh Council (PSC), said . Every religion has its own teachings and there must be a separate subject for each any every religion that exists in Pakistan , however the student must to be free to choice the subject , that if he wants to study Ethics or his own religion. He said that the specification of Ethics is that its only for non-Muslims students is injustice, while studying of Islamic Studies is not bad because other religious minorities are living in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where they must know about the majority’s religion. On the other hand, Muslims Scholars say that the state is responsible for education; there should be a separate education system for all religious minorities. Professor Dr AbdulGhafoor Baloch, Head of Islamic Studies at Federal Urdu University of Arts Science and Technology (FUUAST), said that non- Muslims are prohibited to touch the Holy Quran therefore the teacher are hesitant to teach them Islamic Studies. If the government can appoint teachers for the teaching of painting in schools, then it is not difficult to provide separate teachers for non Muslims students to teach them their own religion, he added. “We have formed a committee last year, in which Hindu, Sikh and Christian members have also been included, while the members have also submitted recommendations and reservations about the curriculum which is under consideration”, Professor Dr Fouzia Khan, Head of Curriculum Wing (CW) of education department said . Only Hindu community has presented a book for adding to syllabus but this situation can create complexity because if we approve the proposal of the Hindu community only, other minorities will be also demanding to add their religious books for students which is not possible for the education department. CW is trying to remove the pointed out errors and discrimination contexts, but sometimes some people and organizations agitate absurdly, because the government has changed the name of Islamic studies which was Diniyat, she further added. It is pertinent to mention here that the Provincial minister for education and literacy Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar has said that all schools are bound to teach Nazra Quran and Islamist in their schools and Ethics as well on need basis.