Pakistan Gets First-Ever Animal Welfare Course for School Students

The Prime Minister’s (PM) Office and the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFE & PT) launched Pakistan’s first Animal Rights Curriculum today as per the directive of PM Shehbaz Sharif.

It has been launched a day before International Animal Rights Day to show the world the efforts Pakistan is making in this regard. This is the ‘Primary Level – Phase 1’ of the academic initiative for all the private and public institutes of Islamabad.

The long-awaiting initiative that is grounded in the importance of the vulnerable (animals who cannot speak for themselves) was announced in a meeting today that was presided over by the federal Minister for Education and Professional Training, Rana Tanveer Hussain.

The meeting was opened by the Director of the National Curriculum Council (NCC) Dr. Mariam Chughtai, and was attended by several high-level officials, including the Head of the PM’s Social Reforms Unit, Salman Sufi;  the Assistant Educational Advisor of the MoFE, Mariam Durrani; and Special Secretary Education South Punjab, Dr. Ehtasham Anwar.

Also in attendance were the founder of the Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF), Ayesha Chundrigar from Karachi; the founder of Justice for Kiki (JFK) Animal Rescue and Shelter, Zufishan Anushay from Lahore; and Pakistan’s top animal lawyer, Hira Jaleel, who is based in the USA.

After the opening remarks by Minister Tanveer, Sufi, who has been behind this initiative for months, stated that the project stems from the intolerance for animals in Pakistani society and that “the goal of the reform is to focus on the vulnerable segments of society [animals]”.

It is aimed at inculcating empathy for animals in school children so that the successive generations can work on valuing what the present generation did not, Sufi explained online via Zoom.

He hopes that this academic initiative will mitigate Pakistan’s negative international image to present it as a country where the vulnerable segments of society are cared for, and encourage the provinces to follow this academic initiative.

Sufi also highlighted that the course material has Islamic references as being kind and caring for helpless animals is taught and followed in Islam.

Sufi also spoke about the far-reaching and long-lasting impacts of the new course because the students will pass the values they will learn on to their friends and family in a ripple effect.

As part of the launching ceremony, school students, who were referred to as ‘Animal Rights Champions’ also shared their experiences about rescuing animals and caring for them.

Announcing the landmark academic initiative on Twitter, Sufi remarked, “Our children will shape a more tolerant & inclusive Pakistan”.

About the Animal Welfare Curriculum

Salman Sufi had previously mentioned that this is just the first initiative of many to come. He also revealed earlier this month that the course has many components on teaching children about animal rights and emphasized that animal rights prevail in Islam as well via examples of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and other religious figures.

He divulged that the students will be taught about the various kinds of animals, how to take care of them, and how to ensure that stray animals are not harmed.

Animal rights activists will visit schools to teach children about the responsibility of keeping pets, and the depth of the co-curricular course will increase in each successive class, as per a statement by Sufi.

The authorities aim to translate the content of the Animal Welfare Curriculum into all the languages of Pakistan, including Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Siraiki, and Hindko.