PM Shehbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms Unit just announced that a special curriculum designed to educate children on animal rights will be launched on December 9, prior to International Animal Rights Day. It will teach kids about the responsibility of keeping pets and to treat stray animals with compassion.
On Thursday, Head of PM’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi shared an update on Twitter. “It’s almost time. On directions of PM Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s first curriculum on animal rights will be launched on International Animal Rights Day. Will be sharing event details for online participation few days before the event,” he added. Attached to his tweet was a poster that revealed that the course will be taught at primary level in private and public institutes of Islamabad during phase one.
Sufi told Images what prompted the inclusion of this course in the curriculum. “Basically, the point of adding the curriculum about animal welfare and animal well being in children’s textbooks, [as per] the direction of the PM, [was] because he was concerned about the growing intolerance in society. It is very important that our children learn compassion and tolerance that, unfortunately, our generation does not [have],” he said.
He added that this is just the first initiative of many to come. “[The PM] has also directed [us] to add chapters about humanity, about other aspects which teach our children how to be more accessible and tolerating of dissent, and most importantly, how to take care of the most vulnerable. Animals are [included in that] because of [children’s] natural affinity with animals since childhood.”
He talked about what the course consists of. “The course has many components, it teaches children that animal rights are much stressed [upon] in Islam as well. We will be giving examples of our Prophet Muhammad PBUH, of other figures as well. We will be giving them examples of what kinds of animals are there, how to take care of them and how to make sure stray animals are not harmed,” he said. “The chapter will be requested to be rolled out in other provinces after the ICT launch. Our next goal is to have it in all languages — Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Siraiki, Hindko and other languages being spoken in Pakistan. We will be translating it and spreading it across Pakistan.”
Sufi had introduced the idea of the course in September saying, “It will primarily be included in a subject but we are still figuring out which subject and the chapters.” He elaborated that the course would have co-curricular sessions as well and added 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 they cannot throw stones at stray dogs… even Islam teaches us to respect every living being and emphasises how animals should be protected.”
Animal rights are a matter of serious concern in Pakistan where zoo culture can be very toxic and stray animals are treated with little to no dignity. Recently, comedian Ali Gul Pir opened up about a traumatic experience he had during his teenage years where he saw youngsters aged 14 or 15 dragging a dog, beating him and laughing. He talked about the most disturbing part being that the perpetrators were children.
This shows where we’re at and how necessary it is to include a course that teaches children to be kinder people to the living beings around them, especially to the voiceless. This initiative, if implemented properly and throughout Pakistan, is sure to make us a more compassionate nation.