‘Americanised’ school uniforms and misuse of religion for political gain

Uniforms are imposed upon students to encourage unity and harmony.  They aim to encourage solidarity with one’s school over and above individual expression.  So the news that emerged this week of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) objecting to the trouser and shirt uniform for boys in government schools was enough to make my eyes roll. 

They argue that shalwar kameez for boys should also be available, as an alternative, so parents can choose which one is more American or Pakistani.  The imposition of the trouser/shirt combination is, according to JI, an ‘Americanisation’ of our system.  On a grand scale of things, with all the problems Pakistan is facing, our politicians have once again shown what importance they give to matters which clearly should be on the bottom of the list.

It doesn’t seem to concern JI that of the 29,000 schools in the province, a vast majority lacked any furniture and that students were often exposed to the elements when trying to seek an education.  Also, it doesn’t seem to concern JI that when natural disasters or other catastrophes strike, it is American aid money and American-made bulldozers that come to the rescue.

In England, Muslim schoolgirls are given the option of wearing trousers instead of skirts and when people complain of an ‘Islamicisation’ of the country, I have the same reaction.  Why must we get children involved in our enmity and bitterness?  What will happen if one child decides to wear trousers and shirt while his classmates all wear shalwar kameez? Won’t he be picked on for his choice? Will he not be singled out as the betrayer of all things Pakistani?

If there was any real ‘Americanisation’ going on in Pakistan, then there would be better roads, 24-hour electricity and running water all the time for the whole country.  Children would be sitting on comfortable chairs in their schools instead of on the floor, with a roof over their head instead of the branches of a tree.  Politicians would be held accountable for their actions and those who have been found guilty would be serving jail time instead of being pardoned of their crimes.

JI have said they are merely raising concerns about the fact that they had not been consulted on the proposed change but it just seems like another attempt to misuse religion for political gain.  Shalwar kameez or not, a school uniform should not become the basis of a battleground.  Instead, we should focus more on the content of the child’s education rather than his uniform’s allegiance. JI should drive their energies towards ensuring these children do not become fodder for madrassas in an attempt to prevent their ‘Americanisation’.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30224/americanised-school-uniforms-and-misuse-of-religion-for-political-gain/

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