Misconceptions about Single National Curriculum-Way forward

By: Prof. Amer Jamil

Education, no doubt, has the central place in development of any nation. The difference between a developed and an underdeveloped nation lies in strength of education and training of its youth. The leading nations have, in fact, knowledge-based economies. A strong foundation at school level is mandatory to build concepts that could lead to critical thinking and analysis. Merely getting education is not enough for effective learning by the children. It is quality education that is essentially needed to get the desired results in our youth.

Pakistan is a country with diverse cultures and languages. On top of that there are diverse types of education systems that exist in the country; Government and ordinary private schools, elite class schools and so on. The curriculum being taught in these schools is also very diverse. The kids coming out of elite class schools have advantage over the kids from ordinary schools in all walks of life. The training part is mostly missing from all types of schools whether elite class or ordinary. Practically what we observe in our society is failure of all sorts of education systems to train our youth. All of them are running for getting more and more marks by using some shortcuts. Students getting 95% or more marks are unable to write a letter or application from their own. And there is no such training to observe etiquettes and other social norms, leading to increase in chaos in the country. We see the graduates feel no shame in breaking law, crossing red traffic signal, doing corruption etc., although they learn by heart many of such norms in Islamic Studies, Pakistan Studies etc.

In this backdrop, the ex-government gave the idea of Single National Curriculum to bring unity and harmony among nation, and to bring an equal ground for children coming from different backgrounds. Unfortunately, as done with other things, this idea was politicized. Quite surprisingly, some of our intellectuals also opposed the idea saying that it would hamper originality and creativity of the kids because they would have to follow the same curriculum. According to them, the SNC would spoon-feed the children with certain well-defined concepts. In fact, they fail to comprehend the philosophy of the SNC. The implementation of SNC in schools never means to implant certain type of knowledge in our students. It only gives a uniform curriculum for whole of the country so that the students may have similar levels of education, augmented by strong foundation of Islamic ideology in the form of study of Quran with translation and the life of the holy prophet. It is a misconception that only purely secular type of studies at school level may prepare our students competitive globally. Character-building is equally important component of school education. We need a generation who not only is market competitive but also has strong moral values.

Such intellectuals might be confusing the SNC implementation in school system with the University system. Otherwise, the same system exists in almost all developed countries where public schools are meant for education of children without any class discrimination. As mentioned earlier, the existing school system is total failure leading to learning poverty in the country. In most of the schools, teachers come in classrooms, give lecture, students take notes, no questions asked, and homework given to students. Students do homework, which usually is composed of re-writing the notes or answering the questions given by the teacher followed by mere cramming of the lessons. Students don’t even have time to play or enjoy other hobbies due to this useless activity. What it is to do with SNC?

Therefore, the real learning crises in the country is due to ineffective teaching methodology. There is a strong need to develop curriculum that covers the contents for international competitiveness. Unfortunately, there are myths in our society such as heavier content with more and more stressful work to the students will help prepare them to compete the world. Therefore, the content of different disciplines comprises of too much detail at early age which in fact takes away their innovation and leisure time vital for personality building. The education until class 5th should comprise of training mostly with three books; English (covering basic concepts of science), Urdu (covering Islamic Studies and Pakistan Studies) and Mathematics. Regional language at this stage is also no appropriate as we need a unified nation with integration. Already we are being divided on ethnic basis in different sects. The languages may be included at college level where students are able to understand the philosophy behind the languages rather than cramming different stories. Special attention should be given to teach manners to the students. Then from class 6th to 12th, the subjects like Science and Mathematics should be taught in English as it is the international medium of instruction. The subjects like Islamic Studies should comprise of subjects like Quranic translation of the verses dealing with daily life and Seerat-un-Nabi, and Pakistan Studies and Geography in Urdu so that the students may comprehend it in true sense. Examination is the most important part of the any education system that brings critical thinking in the students. If we prepare students for the questions like Write a note on 14 points of Quaid-i-Azam or write translation of some verses etc., the students will go only for cramming. The teachers will also teach in the similar way so that they would give maximum marks to the students who replicate the same on the paper, and this is actually happening! We should ask the students the questions like “what was impact of 14 points on struggle of independence of Indian Muslims” etc. Similarly, problem solving approach should be followed in all science subjects. Trainings of our teachers for implementation of such educational system is mandatory. Moreover, we need to motivate and incentivize our teachers so that they may do the work with full devotion and commitment. Exploitation of the teachers is common especially in ordinary private schools where teachers are highly underpaid as compared to workload given to them.

Conclusively, we not only have failed for the last 75 years in bringing innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving approach in our students, but our education system has brought in class difference and ethnicity among them. SNC is one solution in minimizing such differences and to make a nation with uniformity. The expensive private schools are afraid of the SNC that their business will be affected due to its implementation. Whereas their business would not be affected. The difference between such private and public schools should be of the facilities such as air conditioning, co-curricular activities etc., and not based on content that is creating nothing but class difference. The one who can afford better facilities may send their children to the private schools with such facilities. But the whole nation should be given the same education. We need to bring both Professional and Personal excellence in our youth if we want to emerge as a developed nation.