Islamabad: Pakistan plans to bring over 30,000 madrasas into the mainstream education system. A military spokesperson said this should help curb extremism.

In a press conference in Rawalpindi on Monday, Major General Asif Ghafoor reportedly said that Pakistan had witnessed a surge in religious seminaries from 247 madrasas in 1947 to 2,861 in 1980. He said, “And now there are over 30,000 madrasas. Out of these, only 100 are involved in propagating terrorism.”

The military spokesman added that Pakistan had already taken several measures to control and bring the seminaries under the mainstream education. Students will receive a degree that is associated with the education board.

“All madrasas will be brought under the Ministry of Education so that contemporary subjects can be taught. We will formulate a syllabus which will not have hate speech and students will be taught respect for different sects,” he said adding that, “In February, money was allotted to bring the seminaries into the mainstream. To control the welfare activities of proscribed organisations, the government has made a system to mainstream their social activities.”

Ghafoor said to bring the madrasas into the mainstream, they will have to start teaching other subjects so that students have skills other than religious studies.

An initial sum of Rs 2 billion will be required to run the programme and later Rs 1 billion each year will be required to keep it going, stated Ghafoor. “We will provide these funds so that these madrasas are mainstreamed and all of our children have equal opportunities,” he said. Ghafoor then claimed that currently there were no terrorist groups in Pakistan.

(With agency inputs)