Dr Bernadette L. Dean, director of VM Institute for Education and former principal of St Joseph’s College for Women and Kinnaird College has left Pakistan fearing her life as she received death threats and a hate propaganda campaign.
She is credited as a senior educationist and member of the government-appointed advisory committee for curriculum and textbooks reforms.
A political party had allegedly started a hate campaign against her for writing textbooks as a member of the advisory committee. She said, “This campaign started a few months ago with threatening phone calls to members of the advisory committee on curriculum and textbook reform and Sindh Textbook Board, visits of religious leaders from the Punjab and Sindh to the STBB to complain about me and the work I am doing with respect to textbook writing, a vicious letter accusing me of being a foreigner woman who has single-handedly made changes to the curriculum and textbooks that made them secular and called me an enemy of Islam.”
Dr. Dean sent a email to friends and colleagues saying sorry and explaining why she has not been able to respond in the recent days. She said she had to leave Pakistan fearing for her life on the advice of family, friends, colleagues and police.
Attached to her email were copies of multiple letters including a letter to the Karachi police chief from a civil society organization appealing for the removal of banners against her put up by the political party.
“The New National Curriculum 2006 approved by the federal government included Islamiat as part of general knowledge in class 1-2 and from grade 3 Islamiat was made a separate subject,” she said.
“The decision was taken at that time that Islamiat-related content would be removed from the other subjects, as Islamiat is a compulsory subject for grade 3 onwards,” she explained.
This is what caused the hate campaign to start against her. Fearing her life, Dr. Dean left Pakistan after explaining it to her friends and family.