The higher education sector in the country is riddled with problems. From a shortage of qualified teachers, to problems in the curriculum alongside the provision of facilities – there are a lot of issues provincial governments can work on to improve the state of university education in Punjab and beyond. The Punjab Governor’s decision to make reading the Quran and its Urdu translation compulsory in all public sector universities however, caters to none of the system’s many exigent issues.

The move is indicative of the governor’s disconnect from the urgent problems facing the higher education sector. When the system of Pakistan is such that Islamic studies and Quranic recitation make up a core part of both primary and secondary institutions – not to mention the focus they get within homes – why is there a perceived need to repeat the same education all the way up to the university level?

Previous editorials have already elaborated why the education system in Punjab does not need this in universities; apart from the obvious exclusion of minority students, the move is only an attempt at appeasement, not actual religious education considering that the government has not identified the need to bring this policy in. Where are lower levels of education failing in their religious curriculum? If what is being taught in schools regarding Islam is not sufficient, why is there no attempt to reform existing teaching methods and material instead of bringing in additional coursework in higher education when it will essentially be a repeat of what has been studied previously?

In our country, founded on religious values and principles, education on spiritual matters always has and should always remain a priority – no one denies this. But there is a way to do things correctly and avoid redundancies in the system. The primary purpose of higher education is to prepare students for the professional world. There is no point in teaching them what they already know. The governor should reconsider his decision or at the very least, give us a reason or two for why the move is justified.