Schools in Pakistan will soon be teaching classes on “compassion” and a “humane approach” to animal welfare.
Salman Sufi, the Prime Minister’s aide on Strategic Reforms, announced the plans on Twitter. He confirmed that the new classes would be introduced in the Islamabad Capital Territory, which is located in the north of the country.
Sufi said that a “special course” on animal welfare is being prepared for schools in the region.
He added that children will be introduced to “compassion and humane approach towards animals so they can be better citizens.” The government has been in touch with international organizations and local animal activists to create the course.
Speaking to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Sufi said that the course will be taught in both private and state schools in the area.
It will be taught to children in fifth grade and above, starting when they are around nine years old.
As the students move up grades, the course will develop more depth. Elements of the course will include teaching children about keeping pets, discussing why it’s wrong to hurt stray animals, and awareness of the consequences of keeping wild animals.
“Even Islam teaches us to respect every living being and emphasizes how animals should be protected,” he told Dawn.
“Our generation has failed the animals, so we have to make sure that our kids are better than us.”
Sufi confirmed that the course will start rolling out in schools in October.
Animal welfare in Pakistan
According to an article written by writer and academic Syed Mohammed Ali, published in the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune, there is a “general absence of adequate laws related to animal welfare and animal slaughter” in the country.
The country does have the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1890). This was introduced to protect animals from unnecessary suffering. The Act has been described as “outdated,” however.
It has been claimed that the Act doesn’t reflect the “prevalent scientific, cultural, or commercial compulsions pertaining to animal welfare.”
There are thought to be over three million stray dogs in Pakistan. The government has in the past ordered mass killings of the animals to control their population.
According to Ali, turtles are given away as party favors at children’s birthdays. Political leaders have also been known to hold rallies with caged and chained lions.
Moves to improve welfare
Pakistan has been taking steps to better the lives of animals. In July of this year, it announced that the Islamabad Capital Territory area would be banning live animal testing in vet schools and industrial complexes.
The move came after viral videos reportedly showed vet students operating on live street dogs. The incidents sparked outrage from Animals Rescue and Adoption Islamabad and PETA.
In a letter sent before the ban, PETA wrote: “Without a doubt, veterinary students need supervised hands-on experience with live animals. [It’s] an important aspect of their clinical training and preparation.”
“However, this training can be accomplished ethically without harming animals.”