ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Education on Wednesday briefed President Dr Arif Alvi about the single national curriculum (SNC) being introduced at the primary level in the upcoming academic session in August this year in both public and private schools along with religious seminaries.

Sources said Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood informed the president that for the first time students of five different religions will be taught their religious text.

“For the first time, five religious minorities will be taught their religious books in schools,” said Joint Education Advisor and Head of National Curriculum Council Rafiq Tahir, who was part of the minister’s team that briefed the president on SNC.

Speaking to Dawn, he said at present Muslim students study Islamiat while students from minority communities study Ethics. Officials from the ministry said books are being published based on SNC for grades one to five. Now new separate books on all five religions will be separately taught to students belonging to Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Kalash and Bahai religion.

They said provinces are supposed to get books published in accordance with their need while for Islamabad-based schools National Book Foundation has been publishing books. The SNC has been developed for promotion of inter-faith harmony, human rights, child rights and life skills.

The Sindh government, however, termed SNC against the spirit of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, under which education was devolved to provinces.

In an interview with Dawn a couple of months ago, Sindh Provincial Education Minister Saeed Ghani said that his province already had updated curriculum. He said that Sindh is not in favour of adopting the SNC, however some good things could be adopted.

According to a press release issued by the Presidency, President Alvi, during the meeting, said: “Focus of our education system should be on character building and promoting critical and creative thinking among students,” adding disparity among different streams of education in the country must be removed by ensuring implementation of the SNC.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Science & Technology Ch Fawad Hussain, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen M Mazari, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan,Parliamentary Secretary of Education Wajeeha Akram, and Education Secretary Farah Hamid Khan.

The SNC was designed in consultation with all federating units of the country along with other relevant stakeholders including the private sector and seminaries, ministry officials informed the president, adding the curriculum had been developed in accordance with international standards to meet educational requirements of the country.

Participants of the meeting were apprised that the SNC was designed in three phases which would be implemented in all streams of education. Initially, the new scheme of education will be introduced for students from grades 1-5 during the academic year 2021-22.

Similarly, the process of development of SNC for phase-2 (6-8) and phase-3 (9-12) had already been started, which will be introduced in the next two years respectively.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2021

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