Uniform Reforms?


Since the Punjab government has apparently plugged all the loopholes in its heavily-hit education system, it has now decided to brood over the so-called moral ruin of its children. And the devil clearly lies in the details because we are no longer talking about curriculum but downright basic uniform. Minister Murad Ras has laid out an elaborate plan that asks private schools to add dupatta/skullcaps as part of their dress code. Going by his overemphatic wrangling of Aitchison College over curriculum violations, this “suggestion” would soon see the minister pick up the punitive rod again.
If the mandated addition pertains to the Islamic studies’ classes, what use would it be to non-Muslim students sitting on the same benches, who under no obligation, are required to read Quran? Or, are their feelings and the need for their inclusiveness a matter of no concern? When countries like Indonesia have already slammed down an effective ruling on such religion-based dress codes being in direct contravention with the cherished ideals of religious freedom, what coign of vantage does he or anyone else behind his banner plan to make his case? Why stand in passionate defiance against France’s ostentatious headscarf ban when you are ready to reel your minorities under the same bus?
Some may argue how uniformity rules out class differences. There is also a swirling debate on such measures being a smokescreen to quietly build the SNC fortress. But any ambitious design to leave a lasting legacy-especially one that appeases a certain group of popular votes-should be secondary to fighting the more crucial fires.
A staggering 15 per cent of its 22.04 million children are out of school; an overwhelming majority of which is girls. Dangerous school buildings and ghost schools are just as ghastly cans of worms, which are being kicked to the sidelines because they won’t resonate with the public sentiment as much. If it is a classic case of noble intent getting the better of Mr Ras’s intellect, the Punjab government should clear the air on an immediate basis. But if things have come to a point that it is the majority way or the highway (as it usually is in our dear homeland) anyone daring to choose otherwise is up for one more nauseatingly bitter pill!