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U.S. Funds Pakistani Schools to Fight Terrorism

Pakistan’s public schools, not its religious madrassas, pose the greater risk to anti-extremist efforts in the nation, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. New U.S. spending will seek to overhaul Pakistan’s public school system in an effort to curb the spread of extremism while signaling greater U.S. interest in Pakistan’s social problems.

With a curriculum focused on building loyalty to Pakistan’s military rather than on developing basic math and science skills, Pakistan’s public school system produces students who may be easily swayed by extremist rhetoric.  Incapable of accepting that Muslims could be behind terrorist attacks in the nation, many of Pakistan’s publicly educated instead believe that India or the United States must be behind such attacks.  This misperception creates a serious barrier to U.S. efforts to combat the spread of extremism.

To solve this problem, the recently passed Kerry-Lugar bill has allocated $200 million for developing Pakistan’s public education system this year alone.  This money is intended to show a shift in U.S. priorities in Pakistan from focusing exclusively on support of the military to greater concern for Pakistan’s social needs.  The move is not without its critics, however.  Former Pakistani education minister Javed Ashraf Qazi believes the money is a waste, citing a greater need for vocational schooling which would have a longer lasting impact.

Read more at Washington Post.

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