Dawood Public School, a renowned girls school in Karachi, came into news when Daily Ummat published a story about the school having a Science textbook in its curriculum containing sex education.
After the case of Al-Umer Foundation School and the demise of Yaqeen Educational Foundation in Karachi some serious steps by the government and education department should have been taken but it looks that all efforts of journalists and media are ending in smoke as another educational crisis hits Karachi.
Later it was known that such controversial stuff was also included in classes 6 and 7. When students of the school and Parents protested against teaching ‘sex education’ and ‘family planning’ to immature minds of students, the management expelled students of Class 6 and 7 namely Alina Salman, Maheen Salman, Rabia Merchant and Aisha Merchant.
On Wednesday, parents of expelled students protested against the expulsion and immoral course material at the school which quickly gathered media attention. In reaction to which the management shut down the main doors and allegedly did not allow the students to go home. However, parents forcefully opened the doors, after which the school administration rusticated many students from the school. CEO of Dawood Public School Ms. Sabrina Dawood reportedly misbehaved with the parents and after the protest she left the school.
Dawood Public School started to get modern and enlightened since Sabrina Dawood joined as CEO (fancy having a CEO in a School). A graduate from University College London with MSc in Medical Anthropology and qualified with a BA in Anthropology and Law from the London School of Economics, Ms Dawood took intiatives to “liberalize” the school, accommodating more than 1500 girls.
Starting with a protest rally against swat girl flogging and a concert of Zaib and Hanya, Dawood Publich School had recently made it mandatory for girls to have guitar lessons and even ordered them to purchase the instruments.
Dawood Public School is teaching foreign syllabus using international books to children. The controversial material is from science book 5A published by Marshall Cavendish. The book of class 7th ‘Science Matters volume B’ contains diagrammatic representation of reproductive process in animals including human and information about safe and secure sex and birth control methods.
According to School Principal Mrs Waqar the controversial matter in the books are stapled and not being taught adding that the book, in which the ‘objectionable’ chapters were included, was being used by many other schools. However, the book mentioned in the newspaper is not listed in official curriculum listed at school’s web site (check science book for grade 5)
The view of school administration regarding the course material was published in Daily Times, August 07:
“We should be progressive. We are not providing sex education rather it is basic biology taught all over the world in elementary classes, “The reproduction process is something natural and children should learn it,” the administration argued. “Children are like scientists and they want to learn about things happening around them. Science provides them with answers so there is no wrong in it,” the school administration added, defending the inclusion of the chapter. “Of course we are tense as some elements are bad mouthing us and giving us a bad name,” the administration said.
In the same news report Sindh Assembly member Humera Alwani, who is also a member of Special Inspection Committee on Education, endorses the opinion. “Children should learn about natural processes, adding that the government supports the inclusion of such topics in the curriculum. We cannot leave our children in darkness any more,” said Alvani while vowing that the government would not let anyone come in the way of providing modern education to the masses”
Commenting on the incident, Naveed Zuberi, adviser to Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, said that they would not allow any school to teach such courses, saying:
“This is not USA or Europe, this is Pakistan and our culture does not allow us to teach these things at school”.
On Thursday, a team of Ministry of Education along with media representation and members of “Parents Action Committee” raided Dawood Public school and after having negotiations with the Principal and Management, decided to:
- Seal Dawood Public School
- Confiscate controversial teaching material, including Science and Islamiat Books
- Instructed the administration to change school timings with respect to Ramadan
- Make Guitar learning classes optional for students.
Parents demanded the arrest of CEO Sabrina Dawood and ban on male staff to enter girls section, especially the toilets.
Whatever the school administration and parents say and wherever they want their children to study, one thing is clear that all the private schools in the city, in collaboration with the Sindh government, need to clarify their curriculum to the parents and let them decide what they want their children to learn. If they continuously keep their curriculum uncertain such controversies would likely arise. Also, the Education Deparment should play its part and pro-actively monitors the curriculum and activities of schools across Karachi.