Islamabad schools to get ‘special course’ on animal welfare by October-end: Salman Sufi

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Prime Minister of Pakistan’s Strategic Reforms Unit head Salman Sufi on Saturday announced that the government was preparing a “special course” on animal welfare for schools in Islamabad.

“A special course is being prepared on animal welfare that will be introduced in schools of ICT region. Children will be introduced to compassion and a humane approach toward animals so they can be better citizens,” he said in a tweet.

The course, which will be introduced in educational institutions by the end of October, has already been chalked out, Sufi told Dawn.com over the phone.

“It will primarily be included in a subject but we are still figuring out which subject and the chapters,” he said, revealing that the course will be introduced “according to the intensity of the curriculum” and will be taught to classes starting from the fifth grade in both private and government schools.

Sufi elaborated that the course would not just be included in the curriculum but will also have co-curricular sessions.

“Animal rights activists will visit schools and teach children about keeping pets. They will tell kids that pets cannot just be kept for fun, and make them realise that animals are a responsibility.

“And with every class, the depth of the course will increase,” he added.

Apart from pets, Sufi went on, students will also be taught about stray animals. “They need to understand that you can’t throw stones at stray dogs. That it is better to neuter these animals. That even Islam teaches us to respect every living being and emphasises how animals should be protected.”

And not just dogs or cats, but also donkeys and horses, he said. “Over the years, we have seen how Pakistan has become a horrible place for these animals.”

Furthermore, the course will entail the dangers of keeping exotic animals at home.

“We will tell children that if they can afford these wild animals, it is absolutely unfair to keep them at home and that importing exotic animals is a big no,” Sufi stressed, pointing out that the government was also in touch with international organisations and local activists regarding the projects.

“Our generation has failed the animals, so we have to make sure that our kids are better than us,” he added.

Hailing the development, Pakistan Animal Welfare Society co-founder and animal activist Mahera Omar said that it was important to teach children kindness towards animals.

“When they grow up with such values from a young age it leads to a more compassionate society. They learn that animals too can feel pain, and have rights and needs that ought to be respected.”

She said the news that children in Islamabad would now be able to learn about animal welfare was a “great first step” and hoped that it would soon be taught across schools in the country.

“The young generation is also the steward of our environment, our wild spaces and native wildlife, and their education on such matters is key to a better future for all of us,” Omar said.