The curriculum taught in Pakistani schools, especially over the last few decades, have been criticised for being exclusivist and helping promote rigidity and intolerance In fact, it would not be wrong to point out that more than the material taught in many Madressah, it is the content of public school textbooks that has contributed largely to the acceptance or condoning of terrorism by a large section of the population. That is why curriculum reform is a key area in the struggle to reclaim the anti-extremism narrative in Pakistan and point it in a more moderate direction.

In this regard, the Punjab Chief Minister’s remarks recently, in which he said that the syllabi of schools, colleges and seminaries would be reformed as part of counterterrorism efforts. For a holistic, integrated counterterrorism and anti-extremism effort, it is essential that the curricula taught throughout Pakistan are carefully examined to root out any references or biases that may promote hatred of or belittle different sects, religions, communities or nations.

After the 18th Amendment, the onus is on the provincial governments and they need to use their powers where textbooks are concerned. The previous ANP-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had made similar changes, also guided by Musharraf-era curriculum reform guidelines. Recently the PTI administration of KP apparently under Jamaat-i-Islami pressure has tried to revert to the curriculum.

Clearly more efforts are required to produce curricula that are progressive and provide genuine learning opportunities for the students. There should be same curricula for all religious, non-religious institutions. One syllabus, one language makes one nation.


Lahore, February 27.