LAHORE: The Punjab Curriculum Authority (PCA), which has the mandate to decide which books can be part of the curriculum in schools, has distanced itself from the announcement by a private schools’ association’s ban on Malala Yousafzai’s book ‘I am Malala’.
The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation had announced on November 6, that it had banned the book from the curriculum and libraries of ‘all private schools in the country’.
PCA Chairman Saleem Akhtar Kayani told The Express Tribune that the PCA had not imposed or endorsed a ban. “We have not made any such announcement and have nothing to do with the ban,” he said.
Kayani said the PCA only gave opinion on books that were part of the curriculum or sent to them for review.
The authority was established in 2012 to “make provisions for the supervision of curricula, textbooks and ensuring standards of education in the Punjab…and to regulate the supplementary material”.
Under the law the PCA’s mandate includes preparation and approval of textbook manuscripts, maintenance of education standards in accordance with the government’s education policy and regulation of printing, publishing and sale of textbooks and supplementary readers for schools.
Kayani said this was the second incident of the kind to have occurred in the Punjab this year.
Previously, a controversy surrounding a ban on science and comparative religion books and reference material at a private school had led the Punjab government to confiscate the books and impose a ban on teaching of the course.
Kayani said the PCA had not been directly involved. “The minister of education took the decision and the provincial government took action,” he said.
Kayani said the PCA had been supervising the curriculum in government schools. When asked whether the PCA had the authority to regulate curriculum for private schools, he said the PCA had been established only six months ago and was still in the process of formulating rules of procedure.
According to the Punjab Curriculum Authority Act (PCAA) 2012, PCA’s control extends to all schools, colleges, universities and other educational establishments in the public as well as the private sector.
Kayani said the PCA had the authority to review and address concerns regarding books taught in schools. These reservations could be about material considered to be against the ideology of Pakistan, the teachings of Islam and inciting sectarian or religious hatred and violence, he said.
The PCAA 2012 states that “the Authority shall not approve the publication of any book or supplementary material which is, or is likely to be, detrimental for examination or assessment purposes, or which contains anything repugnant to the injunctions of Islam, or contrary to the integrity, defence or security of Pakistan or any part of Pakistan, public order, decency or morality”. According to the act, the authority can amend, withdraw and even prohibit certain books prescribed for educational institutions. “We only review books that are deemed objectionable,” Kayani said, “We do not issue such generic bans.