PESHAWAR: Aimed at strengthening the capacity of religious seminaries’ school practitioners and to equip learners with religious as well as contemporary education, the latest skills and better behavioural values, the ‘Learning for empathy’ project under the aegis of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concluded at a seminar here on Sunday.
The seminar was attended by seminaries and school teachers, students of public sector universities, government officials, representatives of civil society and officials of UNESCO Islamabad office.
The project was funded by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Attention was focussed on contemporary education, especially English language, during the project.
Extracurricular activities such as sport competitions, cultural and food festivals were organised at seminaries under the project for promoting tolerance, respect of different cultures, folks and festivals among students.
Zafar Hayat Malik, Education Head at UNESCO’s Office, spoke about the key achievements and lessons learnt during the project.
He said the project helped them explore the possibility of partnership and scaling up of such interventions in other parts of the country.
Malik said UNESCO Islamabad had provided Information Technology and English language courses, educational exposure visits and teachers’ training at Darul Uloom Jamia Usmania, Peshawar and government schools in the provincial metropolis.
Prof Dr Gulzar Jalal, Head of English Department, Edwardes College Peshawar, said the project was an encouragement for the learners to involve them in academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
He said the project was a step towards the promotion of peace-building, interfaith harmony and respect for cultural diversity through seminaries and government schools.
A religious scholar and principal of Darul Uloom Jamia Usmania, Mufti Ghulamur Rehman said that the project had helped establish solid ground for addressing the disconnection between religious institutions and formal education system in the province.
Besides promoting extracurricular activities between public schools and seminaries, organisation of customised training courses in IT and English language for the faculty and students the religious institutions was highly commendable, he added.
He said the introduction of such courses in the religious institutions would bring them closer to the national, regional, and global community and it would broaden their learning and knowledge about other contemporary subjects and faiths.
Officials of the Education Department from Kohistan, Swat and Mohmand districts said that over 35,000 religious institutions were registered in the country and they have been making substantive contributions in the promotion of education.
Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi congratulated all the students and teachers who have completed the courses offered during the project.
UNESCO National Project Officer Sadia Bangash said UNESCO was constantly engaged in intervention developed for the betterment of youth, which was producing impact in terms of portraying the importance of religious institutions for the promotion of peace and tolerance in the society.
The KP Education Department officials thanked UNESCO for undertaking the initiative.They called for expanding the efforts to other districts and expressed full commitment and support for the effective implementation of the project.