Pakistan school students mask
Students wear protective masks maintaining safe distance as they attend a class in Peshawar, Pakistan September 23, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: The Pakistan government is preparing a special course on animal welfare for schools that will be initially rolled out in Islamabad, officials said.

“A special course is being prepared on animal welfare that will be introduced in schools of ICT [Islamabad Capital Territory] region. Children will be introduced to compassion and a humane approach toward animals so they can be better citizens,” said Salman Sufi, head of the prime minister’s strategic reforms unit. The aim of the course is to educate children and young people about animals and their welfare and prevent harm. He added that Islam also teaches us to respect every living being.

The course has been planned to be introduced in educational institutions by the end of October. Sufi explained that the course on animal welfare will be mainly included in a subject. It will be taught to students in Grade five and above in both private and government schools. The special course would be covered in both the curriculum as well as sessions in which animal rights activists would visit schools and teach children about animals and their welfare and how to protect animals to ensure their wellbeing. It will help protect the welfare of pets, domestic and stray animals.

Activists hail the development

Animal welfare activists have hailed the development. “This is great news,” animal welfare group Critters Ark Welfare Organisation said in a Facebook post but urged the government to roll out the course in other cities too so that “people will learn to be kind to animals” and put an end to animal cruelty in Pakistan. “This is an extremely important step to improve animal welfare issues in our society. Teaching children how to respect and care for animals will increase friendliness and empathy towards animals,” said Khadija Noor, an Islamabad-based animal lover.

The animal welfare education initiative has been launched after the government banned testing and surgeries on live animals at veterinary schools and industrial complexes in Islamabad city. The reforms include harsher punishments for animal cruelty crimes including Rs15,000 ($63) fine and jail terms for animal cruelty offenders. The government is also planning to amend centuries-old laws regarding animals to put an end to animal abuse and discourage the import of exotic animals.