Pakistan: No diagrams in Biology textbooks

Islamabad, Pakistan: Now Pakistan’s biology books will not contain any diagrame or sketch that shows human figures. National Curriculum, religious scholars appointed as members of the SNC Committee are supervising the content of schoolbooks and gave the decision in the name of Islamic morality.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, in an opinion piece for Dawn, writes that for biology teaching, this move surpasses existing de facto prohibitions on teaching evolution, the foundational principle of biological sciences. He stressed that illustrations are crucial to explaining the digestive system and human reproduction, and excluding these from schoolbooks reduces the teaching of biology to a farce.

“In one book from 1996 I did find a diagrammatised rabbit. But with essential parts fuzzed-out, it is difficult to figure out whether it was male or female or the equipment that rabbits need to reproduce themselves. That someone should think an un-fuzzed diagram of this little animal would titillate students or stimulate promiscuous behaviour stumps me,” he wrote.

He stressed that Pakistan is hell-bent upon moving backward as fast as possible and the kind of mixed-up, confused and ignorant generations PTI’s curriculum changes will produce in times ahead is absolutely terrifying.

Hoodbhoy also said that clerical interpretations of modesty, when enforced, cause people to suffer grievously. This was noted when ex-Pakistani senator Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan’s party banned ECG and ultrasound for women by male technicians and doctors when in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, claiming that women would lure men under the pretext of medical procedures.

Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan also roundly condemned diagnostic devices that can look inside women’s bodies, stating: “We think that men could derive sexual pleasure from women’s bodies while conducting ECG or ultrasound.”

Females always bear the brunt when the clerical interpretations of modesty – known as sharm-o-haya – applies to all. Hoodbhoy said that culturally in Pakistan, ‘breast’ is a taboo word and so breast cancer cannot easily be called ‘breast cancer’. This makes early detection hugely difficult and accounts for Pakistan’s rate of breast cancer being the highest in South Asia.

Furthermore, thousands of Pakistani women die yearly of ovarian and cervical cancer but ‘ovaries’ and ‘cervix’ are words too delicate to ever mention.

Questioning that whether females can become real doctors with their restricted medical knowledge, the author says that the clerically supervised PTI school curriculum will magnify body-related taboos.

“Even today no one in government dares talk openly about population planning or contraceptives except with bated breath and only after looking over their shoulder. Although Pakistan produces as many people as the state of Israel every two years, yet it abolished the ministry for population planning long ago. It was replaced with some obscure, non-functioning organisation in each province,”.

He further said that presumably, the morals of Pakistani society will be wrecked if it is discovered how babies are made. He also said that sharm-o-haya makes protecting children from sexual predators much more difficult.

Earlier this week, unchallengeable video evidence emerged of a mufti’s sexual wrongdoing with a madressah boy. While he was stripped of his madressah teaching post after investigation, no cleric suggested Sharia punishment for the cleric and all religious parties stayed mum, underlining the hypocrisy on the curriculum in the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *