ISSN 2330-717X

Pakistan: Nationalization Haunts Church Schools

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By Ayyaz Gulzar

Catholic educators say the quality of education in their schools in Punjab and Sindh provinces continues to suffer years after the return of institutions to the Church following a period of state control.

“We are still seeking government help to improve the quality of education and resolve key issues since they were handed back, especially in technical institutes,” said Father Joseph Leonard Paul at a celebration in Karachi last weekend marking the 50th anniversary of his ordination.

Fr Paul has been serving in Church schools for 43 years during which time he played a vital role in getting back Church run educational institutes.

The government nationalized all Church schools and colleges in Punjab and Sindh provinces in 1972.

It later denationalized them between 1985 and 1995 without offering any compensation.

One Church school and a college still remain in government hands in Karachi. Similarly a 100-year-old school in Lahore remains out of reach of the minority Christian community.

“The building is dilapidated now. We tried to get it back but the government said we didn’t have the necessary documents. Some Church land is also in jeopardy,” said Maxwell Shanti executive secretary of the Catholic board of education (CBE) in Lahore.

Similarly the CBE in Islamabad-Rawalpindi diocese expressed similar concerns over a village school

“We are not sure about its future”, said William John, the board’s executive secretary.

“The quality of education suffers in government educational institutes due to a lack of accountability. Church institutes were left to rot and there was poor attendance by teachers as well as students when they were nationalized,” he said

Though Islamic education is a compulsory subject, government schools do not teach catechism.

“A feeling of suppression and an inferiority complex among non-Muslim students prevails,” John said.

The Catholic Church at present runs 504 educational institutes in the country.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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