ISLAMABAD: Formulation of the single national curriculum (SNC) is a historic initiative, introduced to eliminate Pakistan’s long standing class-based education system, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Education in response to objections being raised by various quarters on the SNC.
It has been highlighted in the statement that a campaign against the SNC has been started that is spreading false information like, “an Ulema Board has decreed that all human figures in biology text books of the SNC be covered with appropriate clothes to protect their modesty. Qaris from madrassahs would be appointed in all schools, public and private, to teach the holy Quran. And the SNC discriminates against minorities.”
In response to the three objections, the ministry clarified: “The SNC has so far only been approved till grade V. Biology is a subject that is taught from Grade 9 and no textbooks for biology have so far been finalised. The federal government’s approval process for science textbooks does not involve any consultation with the Muttahida Ulema Board and so any claim that the board has prohibited the inclusion of any diagrams or educational material from the biology textbooks is factually inaccurate.”
Science textbooks are being developed in close consultation with renowned local and international experts and will not be approved for publishing until it is determined that they meet the required global benchmarks, the statement further said, adding: “It is, however, true that Punjab Assembly has approved a law whereby an ulema board approves all Islamic content in the curriculum. Punjab government has informed the federal ministry that no change was made in the biology textbooks by the said board.”
The statement said that appointment of a Quran teacher in public and private schools was not ordered. “No such order has been made by the government at any level. The teaching of Qirat to Muslim students is a part of the Islamiat curriculum and is mandatory to foster their religious learning. This instruction can be provided by the existing Islamiat or religious studies teachers or the school can hire anyone they deem fit.
“The SNC is a historic initiative introduced to eliminate class-based education system and create equal educational standards for all the students of Pakistan, regardless of race, class, gender, and any other arbitrary marker. It is being developed with expert input from all segments of society and is being designed in line with the pedagogical needs of the 21st century,” it reads, adding Islamic content in the curriculum is strictly according to an act of parliament enacted in 2017, called The Compulsory Teaching of Holy Quran Act 2017 and is mandatory on all federal institutions. This act was adopted by all the provinces except for Sindh.
“The SNC has also taken special care to ensure that there is no material in it that offends the sensibilities of any of the minorities in Pakistan. In fact, it is for the first time that a separate special curriculum has been prepared for Hindus, Christians, Bahais, Sikhs and Kalaash. Ministry’s entire attempt has been to ensure that the curriculum is not only reflective of all Pakistanis but promotes tolerance, peace and brotherhood among all communities in the country,” the statement said.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2021