Pakistan, being a third world country, struggles with many problems. Low literacy rate is one of the prominent one. But the condition is bleaker when it comes to the literacy rate of religious minorities, especially the Christian community of Pakistan. It is an undeniable fact that the missionaries played a vital role in bringing English medium education to what was known as the British India, in 1854. The first missionary school of the sub-continent Rang Mahal Lahore, which started under a tree with only three students and was soon transformed into a high school. The churches continued their endeavours to develop more institutions with modern education, in fact within fifty years, hundreds of institutions and an increasing number of students reflected the centrality of education as the missionary objective. Despite all the efforts, Christians had to pay a heavy price, not only for pioneering modern education in the sub-continent, but also for supporting the Muslims when the British India was being partitioned into two states, namely: India and Pakistan. Majority of the Christians supported the formation of Pakistan. Prominent Christian leaders of that time even argued before the Boundary Commission that, in case of division, the Christians must be counted with the Muslims. After the creation of Pakistan: After the creation of Pakistan, in 1947, missionary schools were known for quality education. Admissions were given irrespective of any religious affiliation. In fact, founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, National poet of Pakistan, Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal and other main leaders studied at Christian institutions. But things started changing dramatically in 1972, when all educational institutions, including missionaries, were taken over by the ruling government. Civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ordered nationalisation of all educational institutions. Since those schools were an identity of the Pakistani Christians, nationalisation was not only seen, but felt, as an attack on this identity. Although the decision was not made on religious grounds, it initiated some other serious issues. Aside from providing good education, missionary schools were also a source of interaction between various faiths. With a low-fee structure, these institutions provided an opportunity to students from every social class and religion to come in contact with others. This helped in breaking barriers and developing harmony between the adherents of different religious denominations. Nationalisation not only had an adverse effect on the quality of education, it also sabotaged the inter-religious connections. This resulted in persecution and instances of prejudice against minorities. Policy implementation and its Aftermath: The policy to nationalise all the educational institutions was announced on 15th March 1972. According to the data conducted by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a research organisation in Pakistan, 3,334 institutions consisting of 1,826 schools, 346 Islamic seminaries, 155 colleges and five technical institutes were taken over by the government. Apparently, the government vowed that this step would enhance the literacy rate, but reality was contrary to the claims. As an aftermath, strength of non-Muslim teachers and students was seen to plummet and the standard of education also declined. In order to take back their schools from the government’s possession, Christians of the society staged protests in various cities to condemn the arbitrary move of the government, on 30th August 1972. “I participated in that protest as a schoolboy and I heard a phrase from a passer-by ‘Where have they come from? I did not know there were so many Christians in Pakistan’,” said, Executive director of CSJ, Peter Jacob. Press release for the protest was issued with the heading ‘Death Knell for Christians – 1st September 1972’ which accentuated the severity and urgency of raising voice against the take-over which was due on 1st September 1972. “Protestors demanded a meeting with the then President, Zulfiqar A. Bhutto, at the Presidency which was 300 meters away from the protestors in Rawalpindi,” said Jacob. “Police, who were in riot-control gears, initially resorted to baton charging and firing tear gas and eventually opened fire on the protestors, killing two marchers,” Jacob added. According to the press dispatch issued by the administration, protestors were armed with guns and sticks. No gain, with a big loss: Steep decline in the quality of education and the literacy rate of the country made it clear that nationalisation was not the right decision. Apart from the decline, corruption and nepotism in the recruitments, religious biases and narrow mentality by the teachers was observed. Sister Shehla Keane, Principle of St. Teresa’s High School, one of the nationalised missionary schools, penned her experience in Focus, published in 1988. “As a principal I felt completely frustrated by not knowing what nationalisation really entailed. I would soon find out…The male science teacher was not allowed to continue, and the first vacancy was created and filled almost immediately. There was no interview, Shamim (the appointee) arrived with her appointment letter and equipped with her knitting. Three more young Muslim teachers had joined our staff in short period of one month. The School already had two teachers teaching Islamiat (Islamic Studies) and now five… These new teachers brought with them some closed ideas about the role of education in the emancipation of Christian girls, stating ‘And who is going to clean our houses and wash our clothes if these girls study and do exams.’” Orders for Denationalisation: In 1979, the then military government announced that there will be no further nationalisation of educational institutions. In fact, the authority of the denationalisation was given to provincial governments. On 1st April 1985 Sindh government notified conditional denationalisation of 14 Christian schools. However, the notification remained a piece of paper for many years. Conclusion: Indeed, the nationalisation of the educational institutions resulted in retardation of the education milieu of the country. According to the data collected by CSJ, out of 118 nationalised Christian institutions, still 50% have to be denationalised. Those, which are still under government´s dominance have 16% strength of non-Muslim students and 9% of Non-Muslim teachers. Nevertheless, the orders for denationalisation is still a ‘pie in the sky’ for the churches and the education sector of the country. Author is a Journalism student at University of Roehampton, London, and a working journalist. He can be contacted through email [email protected].