The decision to revert the compulsion to study Arabic language in higher secondary and secondary schools by the Supreme Court (SC) should be welcomed by all. The aim of education in any country in the world should be to devise such a curriculum which reinforces critical thinking rather than enforced cultural norms. In this case, successive governments have pushed for Arabic language as a compulsion without the realisation that languages which are secondary should be optional and up to the students to decide.

The students are already under a lot of pressure studying varying different subjects. Adding another compulsory subject means that increasing the burden on the students without proper research into the effectiveness of including the subject into the compulsory curriculum. Our education system is devised at the moment making mathematics, sciences and two core languages (Urdu and English) as the compulsory subjects. All these subjects are relevant to a particular field of study that the students might chose to specialise in. The same framework must be applied if more subjects are added to the list.

There is no denying the fact that propositions of including Arabic language in the curriculum is primarily seeking to Islamise the population. However, the compulsion of it is unnecessary. Islamic studies is already taught in schools. This means that a large chunk of the course already comprises of an Arabic section. The course is designed in a manner to thoroughly go over the history of the Islamic period and that covers the basics of the Islamic studies course. Learning a language is complementary to learning history, however, that is an independent decision.

The SC must be commended for taking up this issue which has also found many proponents in the parliament previously. This proposal, to make Arabic compulsory, keeps cropping up from time to time; it has never been implemented, but discussion and eventual rejection of this has taken up valuable government time and effort which could have been used to reform the education system in other, better ways.

While the SC has refuted the petition using the constitution and Islamic jurisprudence based reasoning, the common-sense policy reasons for its refusal are equally valid. The aim of the educational framework of the country should be to inform students rather than impose on them. This is a minute change in a system which requires massive reforms in order to push the generation in a direction which will result in growth.