Primary school children in India will learn about witchcraft in the classroom as part of an effort to dispell superstitions and stop deadly witch-hunts.
Last Updated: 6:55AM GMT 24 Nov 2008
Many tribal communities in the country believe in witches and their ability to cause harm to people, animals and the harvest.
About 750 people, mostly old women, are estimated to have been killed in witch-hunts in rural India since 2003.
In one of the worst cases, a family of four stoned and buried alive for allegedly cursing a relative of the village chief, the Times reports.
Advocates for a change to the syllabus say beliefs must be altered early if India’s witch-hunts are to be stamped out.
But some academics argue that witch-hunts are linked to economic conditions and claim that pensions, not education, are the best way to eradicate belief in black magic.
Studies suggest that more “witches” are identified during hard times, the paper said.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, an estimated one million women were killed in Europe for dabbling in the black arts.
Last month, a petition calling for a posthumous pardon for women and men who were executed as British witches was presented to the British government.