Single National Curriculum draft revised: Provinces empowered to decide on mother languages

Updated 21 Jan 2020

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The first draft had ignored all mother languages, which had raised concerns among various stakeholders and members of the civil society and different cultural groups.
— AFP/File
The first draft had ignored all mother languages, which had raised concerns among various stakeholders and members of the civil society and different cultural groups. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The National Curriculum Council (NCC) on Monday unanimously decided to revise the proposed draft of ‘Single National Curriculum’, empowering the provinces to include mother languages in school education if they desire so.

An NCC meeting was held at its secretariat in Islamabad to discuss the proposed draft of a uniform curriculum for schools across the country. Adviser to the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Javed Jabbar presided over the meeting that was attended by representatives from the civil society, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan and the private sector, including Aga Khan Foundation, Lums, Beaconhouse group and others. Representatives from Punjab and Sindh were not present.

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training’s Technical Experts Committee on Curriculum and its sub-committee’s first draft of a uniform curriculum for students of Grade Pre-I to XII had suggested English as a medium of instruction, not as a subject. It had suggested that technical subjects such as mathematics and science be taught in English from the beginning, as later the terminologies used in them could become difficult for students.

The first draft had ignored all mother languages, which had raised concerns among various stakeholders and members of the civil society and different cultural groups.

Mr Jabbar told Dawn that the meeting briefly discussed the concerns of the stakeholders over the first draft and reached a consensus that it would be revised. The participants gave their input and it was unanimously decided to include mother languages as mediums of instruction in schools from Grade Pre-I to V, he added.

He further said that all the discrepancies would be removed, adding that the provinces were authorised to include any language of their region as medium of instruction. Punjab, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan could also use their native language as Sindh was using Sindhi.

Mr Jabbar said the committee would submit a revised draft within 72 hours of the meeting and it would be forwarded to the provinces that would have to implement it as education was a provincial subject. He added that they had proposed “minimum uniformity” for Grade Pre-I to V in schools.

He also said that the participants had suggested broadening the scope of Islamiat to include chapters about other religions. The first phase of the Single National Curriculum for Grades Pre-I to V would be finalised by March 31, he added.

Another participant of the meeting, Peter Jacob, told Dawn that the NCC members discussed all the points raised by the quarters concerned and accepted incorporating the suggestions in the revised draft of the uniform curriculum. He said curriculum making should tackle the matter of teaching of religion as a compulsory subject in a multi-religious society.

He said the religious minorities had complained time and again that some text in the books manifested hate and discrimination towards them. Non-Muslim students were forced to study Islamiat due to impractical alternatives given to minority students, he claimed. The new policy needed to make education inclusive so that minorities could be fairly and respectfully represented in textbooks.

Punjab Lok Sangat Convener Amjad Saleem Minhas said that it was a positive step that provinces were being authorised to deal with the medium of instruction.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020