MULTAN: The speakers at a booklet launching ceremony termed the Single National Curriculum (SNC) chaotic, self-contradictory and misleading, suggesting its review to make it more inclusive and discrimination-free.

Addressing the launching ceremony of the booklet ‘Single National Curriculum: Critical Analysis and Policy Recommendation’, known educationist and head of the Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities (IDRAC) Amjad Nazir said adequate budgeting, new schools, provision of missing facilities, availability of teachers and modern learning aids were far more important for education in the country than enforcing the so-called SNC.

“Since day one, the government itself has been juggling with the SNC and Uniform System of Education, failing to deliver on any of the fronts in letter and spirit. With Sindh already refusing to implement it and Balochistan’s meaningful silence – the SNC has already ceases to be ‘national’. Although the federal and provincial governments have allowed privates publishers to print their own books, there are multiple glitches in between, such as delays in issuance of NOC, the associated fee and private schools continuing with their own education sessions and system,” Mr Nazir said. He also expressed his reservations regarding authorising the Muttahida Ulema Board (MUB) in Punjab to also assess syllabus of social sciences as well.

Criticising Punjab government for allowing private schools to continue with their own curriculum, he said, “If that is the case, then what has been the whole fuss about.”

Pointing out the confusion with regard to SNC’s implementation in madressahs (seminaries), he said, “Hardly 10 percent of the madressahs will be having a formal system of schooling. The rest will focus only on their conventional tajveed, naazra, hifz and hadeeth. Even that small fraction (10pc) has sought 4-5 years to adopt the SNC, besides demanding teachers, their salaries, employment of their students etc”.

Sharing the statistics from the primary research on a small sample, comprising 32 public, 28 private schools and 18 madressahs in Punjab and Sindh, he concluded that only 52pc of the private schools teachers were familiar with the SNC; in private sector only 27pc of teachers had heard about the SNC while, the ration was only 20pc in madressahs.

In the government schools, around 68pc of teachers had received online or physical training to teach the SNC, while the ration was 19pc in the private schools.

Likewise, he said, around 68pc of the public schools had received grade I-V model SNC textbooks, only 21pc of the private schools purchased the books, an only 5pc of madressahs (following the formal education system) had receive the said textbooks.

As per the study, about 58pc of the public schools believed that the new textbooks were gender equal, while of the madressahs that responded 15pc did not agree to the idea.

“Around 91pc of public schools teachers agreed that minorities were equally represented in schools, 9 percent private schools affirmed it, while it was irrelevant for madressahs as no non-Muslims were studying there.

Pakistan Minority Teachers Association (MTA) president Anjum J Paul, appreciated the government for first time granting the non-Muslims the right to formally study their own faith instead of ‘Ethics’.

“But at the same time, it (the government ) is violating the right of the Christians, Hindus,

Sikhs, Bahais and Kalasa minorities by incorporating sufficient Islamic content in compulsory social sciences subjects such as Urdu, English and others. It was tantamount to instructing minorities’ in faith other than their own and undermined their rights as prescribed in Article 22 (1) [of the constitution] stating that no person shall be instructed or propagated, directly or indirectly - any faith other than his own,” he said.

Mr Paul was of the view that additional marks for learning the Holy Quran by heart, would systematically excluded the non-Muslim students, suggesting inclusion of Islamic content in the subject of Islamiyat only to remove “systematic discrimination from education”.

Dr Amjad Bukhari said that despite certain problems, most of the SNC content could be appreciated for having features like inbuilt exercises, gender balance, removal of hatred or socio-religious biases and accommodating social, cultural, environmental and human rights. Poet Qamar Raza Shehzad also spoke.

The seminar ended with a question- answer session moderated by Zahoor Joya.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2021

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