Competing with the madrassas

Pakistan’s Punjab region is trying to create schools that offer education rather than indoctrination in Islamic extremism.

Lahore, Pakistan — Determined to tackle the rampant illiteracy that fuels poverty and extremism in this unstable South Asian nation, Pakistan’s Punjab province recently began a multifaceted program to revamp education from the ground up.

The program is also aimed at combatting the appeal of the madrassas, schools run by radical Islamic clerics that are seen as a recruiting ground for terrorist groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda.

. . . Pakistan’s 10,000 madrassas have grabbed much media attention for churning out students with little knowledge except what is written in the Koran, many of whom have gone on to be holy warriors. But they are attractive to poor Pakistani families because they provide free education, and room and board.

In addition raising teacher pay, the plan calls for payments to female students who stay in school after fifth grade. Half of Pakistani children never complete elementary school, according to the Education Ministry. Adult literacy rates are 56 percent for men, 32 percent for women.

Here’s Cato’s report on Education and Indoctrination in the Muslim World.

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  1. John from OK says:

    “Schools that offer education rather than indoctrination….” It might be good for Pakistan, but it will never work here.

    Go Pokes!

  2. Uh, but the madrassas apparently don’t offer free education, but only memorization of the Koran.