Ending social injustice: Single national curriculum
Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This weapon is certainly important for Pakistan now more than ever if this country wants to catch up with the world in terms of economy and technology. Currently Pakistan has three parallel systems of education running—public schools, private schools, and religious seminaries (madrassas). Unfortunately, division in education is not limited to harming individuals from the academic point of view but this also divides thinking and the culture of individuals living within the same society. This social injustice has been stopped in many nations which had an education system like our own, but after changing this system to having one curriculum, nations like France have seen dramatic positive impacts mainly because they were able to provide the highest educational standards regardless of the school the child is going to. The current government has been working on a similar idea under the name of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) which aims to bring the entire country’s schooling education system under one umbrella.
One of the main elements of SNC addresses the issue of our society’s long-term obsession with the English language. Although knowing English is only an advantage and teaching it is no harm however, teaching sciences in English in government schools and low-cost private schools does not favour learning while the high-end private school’s students are able to take full advantage of this. The SNC has introduced learning sciences in the area’s local language mainly for the rural areas which will allow them to understand the concept.
One might argue that public schools will continue to struggle compared to private schools because the teaching standards will remain low in public schools. SNC has also addressed this issue by introducing outcome-based learning. This type of learning is designed to teach students so that they understand and accomplish certain topics, while the current education system is based on memorisation in which the concept is not clear yet students are able to complete assessments. Therefore, the SNC’s outcome-based learning is completely revolutionary for the Pakistani education system in which the only way students can progress is by understanding and achieving certain outcomes.
Another element of SNC which needs applause is that it has taken into consideration the minorities and their respective culture. Previously, the curriculum of 2006 had a separate subject for non-Muslims called Ethics instead of Islamiat, but the SNC has introduced Religious Studies for five minority groups of Pakistan. This step by the current government clearly shows its commitment to providing minorities its rights and equal opportunities. This is also why SNC will focus on teaching respect for other cultures and peaceful coexistence along with other learning points which the PTI government is taking seriously and requires urgent attention globally such as environmental awareness, human rights, and sustainable development.
Having one curriculum will also provide fair assessment for students from all backgrounds but having said, this may also result in massive inequality of results since the student learning in a seminary may not be able to get the same quality learning compared to a high-end private school student while the current system is designed to compare seminary students within themselves and not to a student from a private school with plenty of resources. However this is exactly what the Imran Khan government is trying to achieve: a seminary student should be at the same intellectual level as any private school student; this idea of the current government might take years but once this is implemented on the field, we finally might be able to see what the Prime Minister claims to be ‘Naya Pakistan’.