Home Blogs Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – XI

Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – XI

Your Child Deserves Better – A Letter to Parents – XI

This alphabet book was funded by the US government (the most advanced democracy in the world) through its aid agency (USAID) and designed under contract by the University of Nebraska whose ethical mandate is to provide good education to students.

The first step in the protection of your child is to look inside schools at WHAT your child is being taught

A series of articles on education in the form of a multi-installment letter to the parents

By Anjum Altaf

Dear Parent,

Let us stay with the simple subject of teaching a foreign language in primary school — this language can be English, which is a foreign language for almost all Pakistanis, or it can be Urdu for those who speak a different language at home. It is true that there is, in general, more familiarity with Urdu than with English but from the perspective of teaching methodology, Urdu can also be considered a foreign language for a very large number of Pakistani children.

We have already touched on two aspects of teaching a foreign language (any language other than the home language in which a child can converse easily when he or she enters school): WHEN it should be introduced in primary school; and the sequence of LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING and WRITING that should be employed to teach it.

Let us assume, we have arrived at the READING stage. The immediate question that arises at this point is the following: What material would be used to introduce a child to reading? This brings up the very important aspect of the CONTENT of education.

One can ask if content matters? According to educationists it does, which is why almost all alphabet books, in any language, are similar. They associate letters with objects that are very familiar to students by virtue of being a part of their everyday activities.

Thus, an English alphabet book would have A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Cat, D for Dog, etc. An Urdu alphabet book would have Alif for Anaar, Bey for Bakri, Pey for Pankha, Tey for Topi, etc. Let us assume that the word associated with the letter S is Star in the English primer and that associated with Seen is Sitara in the Urdu primer. Now assume further that the word in the former is replaced by Supernova and in the latter by Sayyara. Would these changes make a difference to the process of learning? Yes, because both are unfamiliar words, not part of everyday experience, and the children would have the additional burden of imagining these objects which even their teachers might not be able to explain accurately. The only recourse for the children would be to memorize these facts without understanding them because they might be asked to speak or write in an exam what S/Seen stand for.

At the very least, this suggests that you should take a look at what content is being used to teach your child. You may think I am unnecessarily belaboring the point so let me try and convince you of its importance.

The above usage of Supernova and Sayyara can be naive absurdities introduced by enthusiasts who want to give children a fast start into the world of science so that Pakistan could arrive at the ‘cutting edge’ (a dreaded term people use without any reference to context) and compete with the most scientifically advanced countries in the world.

But this can go beyond naivete into conscious and deliberate choice. Are you aware that there was actually an alphabet book used in madrassahs in Pakistan which had Alif for Allah, Bey for Bandooq, T for Tank, Jeem for Jihad, etc.? Jihad is way beyond the standard Juuta for Jeem because it is an abstract concept on which even adults cannot agree. If you doubt this statement, do look up the 2018 book (Interpretations of Jihad in South Asia) by the eminent educationist Dr. Tariq Rahman. Can a primary school child intelligently grasp what Jihad implies?

You might not be surprised to learn that this alphabet book was funded by the US government (the most advanced democracy in the world) through its aid agency (USAID) and designed under contract by the University of Nebraska whose ethical mandate is to provide good education to students.

One primer was actually titled The Alphabet of Jehaad Literacy and you can see its cover below:

Alphabet - Jihad- Image Courtesy Author- Sindh Courier
Title of Primer ‘The Alphabet of Jehaad Literacy’

It turned out subsequently that the entire operation was funded by the CIA in which the Government of Pakistan was complicit by allowing the material to be used in educational institutions in the country.

You can read about this entire episode in the Washington Post and National Public Radio. Click on the links given below.

The Taliban indoctrinates kids with jihadist textbooks paid for by the U.S.

J Is For Jihad

Interestingly enough, this “educational” endeavor was mentioned by the Pakistani Minister of Information in a speech in Karachi delivered on June 12, 2021:

It was a political strategy to make Pakistan conservative

“In the 1960s and ‘70s Pakistan was a progressive society but in the 1980s a syllabus was made in Nebraska University for madrassahs in Pakistan. It was part of the plan by CIA for the Great War in Afghanistan. It was a deep political strategy to make Pakistan conservative.”

While the minister confirmed everything I have mentioned above, he gave the episode an astounding twist — that it was a US/CIA “deep strategy” to make Pakistan conservative. It is as if all this happened with the Pakistan government completely unaware of what was going on; as if a sovereign country had no say in the content that was being used in its educational institutions. This certainly deserves to go into Ripley’s ‘Believe It Or Not.’

The minister is quite candid in what this education did to Pakistan:

“… as a result of that mess a big chunk of our population became militarized. Gradually our liberal society moved towards extremism. When you opt for extremism, your ideas don’t remain forward-looking.”

One might well ask who the “you” is in “When you opt for extremism…” Was this really a people’s choice? Were they ever consulted? And also, who is now behind the “deep strategy” to make Pakistani society even more conservative than it was before? It seems that the Minister of Information and the Minister of Education are not on the same page.

This particularly abominable and inhuman episode is in the past but I am mentioning it here as a warning to parents — whether a country is the self-styled leading liberal democracy in the world or the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic ummah, neither shies away from literally using children as cannon fodder to achieve their grandiose but undemocratic and unethical political ends. And there is no reason for such practices to have come to an end in a world that is marked by increasing geopolitical conflict.

It is only parents who can make sure that their children are not being misused and abused in this manner. Isn’t it perplexing that the same parents who are so sensitive about physical abuse in schools can be so oblivious to the potential and possibility of mental abuse in the same institutions? Could it be because the former is visible and the latter invisible? For precisely that reason, and because children do not know what is being done to them and cannot protest against that treatment, mental indoctrination can be much more invidious and damaging with severely negative long-term consequences.

Therefore, the first step in the protection of your child is to look inside schools at WHAT your child is being taught. The WHAT is just as important as the WHEN and the HOW!


Dr. Anjum Altaf

[author title=”Anjum Altaf ” image=”https://sindhcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Anjum-Altaf.jpg”]Former Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)[/author]

For previous letters, click on Letter 1Letter 2Letter 3Letter 4Letter 5Letter 6Letter 7Letter 8Letter 9 and Letter 10