KARACHI: Provincial Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah on Monday rejected the Single National Curriculum (SNC) telling the Sindh Assembly that education and curriculum were provincial subjects and the provinces had a right to teach the students in their respective mother tongue.
He was replying to a point of order raised by Leader of the Opposition Haleem Adil Shaikh, who wanted to know if the provincial government was closing down over 10,000 schools across the province.
Describing the SNC as ‘curriculum martial law’, Mr Shah said that that the federal government had not taken the Sindh government on board while preparing the curriculum and wanted to give published books to the province.
“In the new curriculum, they [federal government] are also asking the students about their three-year performance,” he added.
Opposition leader asks why govt is closing down schools when 6.9m kids are already out of school
He said that the federal government showed ‘hastiness’ to impose the SNC.
“The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in its manifesto promised to impose the SNC without having a look at the Constitution according to which education is purely a provincial subject. This not a matter of manshoor [manifesto] but dastoor [constitution],” the minister remarked.
He said that the provincial government supported the federal government in enforcing the SNC for science subjects only, making it clear that Urdu and Sindhi were compulsory in the province.
“Punjab has every right to communicate its students teachings of Baba Bulleh Shah and other intellectuals so as we [Sindh] have the right to include Hoshu Sheedi and others in our curriculum,” he said.
In his point of order, Opposition Leader Sheikh said that the PTI-led federal government aimed at implementing a uniform education system for rich and poor in the country. “Why it is not being implemented in Sindh?” he asked.
‘19,000 schools are without toilet’
The opposition leader said that it was reported in the media that the provincial government had decided to close down 10,000 schools across the province.
Coming down heavily on the provincial government, he said that over 6.9 million children were out of school in the province. “Why are these schools being closed when such a large number of children are already out of school and what action was taken against the responsible if these institutes were established unnecessarily?” he questioned.
He said that the condition of schools was very poor as 26,000 schools did not have the facility of drinking water and 19,000 were without toilets, adding that there was no electricity in over 31,000 schools.
The opposition leader also alleged that desks for schools were being purchased on exorbitant price of Rs29,000 each.
In reply to the opposition leaders’ point of order, the minister said that the education department was going to close down at least 7,000 non-viable schools across the province as they could not be termed as schools.
“Numerous schools were established unnecessarily during the regime of President Pervez Musharraf and Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim,” he said and disclosed that a village had 64 schools and most of them were being used as autaqs or cattle pens.
Minister Shah said that there were even one-room schools in the province, adding that all non-viable institutes would be closed down.
He said that out of total 47,000 schools in the province 39,000 were primary and only 4,000 were post-primary schools. “Around 5,000 schools do not have even infrastructure,” he added.
He said that around 11,000 schools had been listed to be closed down but 7,000 of them were entirely non-viable.
Low enrolment in colleges
While replying to lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during Question Hour, the education minister admitted that enrolment in colleges was low as per population and said that facilities should be expanded to increase the enrolment.
To a question asked by Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of the Grand Democratic Alliance, he said that 62,336 girls were enrolled in 46 colleges of Hyderabad, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur.
The minister said that there were 335 government colleges in Sindh and most of them were located in urban areas, making it very difficult for the students of rural areas.
“We are taking measures to establish hostel and to increase number of colleges especially for girls,” he added.
Mohammad Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan pointed out several discrepancies in the written replies and annexure forwarded by the education department.
The education minister assured the opposition member that action would be taken against the responsible officials.
250 buses being procured for Karachi
Parliamentary secretary for transport department, Ghanwer Khan Isran, said that the work on the Red Line bus rapid transit project was going to be started later this year or in the beginning of 2022.
Responding to a calling-attention notice given by Sarwat Fatima of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, he said that 250 buses along with electric buses were being procured for Karachi.
The TLP lawmaker said that there was no mass transit in the city, adding that private buses were also in a dilapidated condition. “It is difficult for people to travel in Karachi. There are two million private vehicles which cause thousands of problems including pollution,” she added.
She said that the federal government had also promised but failed to inaugurate Green Line on Aug 14.
Later, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani adjourned the house to Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2021