A special seminar was hosted by the Center for Social Justice, in which academics put some questions in front of media persons to ask from the authorities related to the Single National Curriculum (SNC).
The academics included former physics professor Dr. A.H. Nayyar and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) former dean of school of social sciences, humanities, and law, Dr. Anjum Altaf.
Dr. Nayyar, while putting forward his concerns said, “How are we planning to change the whole learning process by just changing the textbooks? In our school systems, we are only taught to reproduce the information which we are getting. Teachers only teach the questions which are given in the exercise after the chapter. We have lost the charm of making students think out of the box.”
The SNC was supposed to end class divisions through unified education, but it has become a divisional issue on its own. Under the slogan, Eik Qaum, Eik Nisaab (One Nation, One Curriculum), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is trying hard to bring all the stakeholders to one page.
“Is this system going to change our examination procedure? The media needs to ask questions about how the exams will be taken. I have witnessed the teachers who are instructed to check the paper exactly on the reproduction of the information. If the student does not quote the exact information from the textbook, he is not given the marks,” said Nayyar.
Other than Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab have been eager to implement SNC.
While describing the problems in SNC, Dr Altaf said that we must get to the basics of teaching and learning. He further wondered why we are so keen for our children to learn English.
“In the outskirts of cities or even here in some school you can see the teacher teaching mathematics in their own native language, while keeping the book which is in English language on the desk. What then, is the purpose of printing that book at the first place?” he asked.
The academics and participants came up with several questions that they wanted the journalists to ask from the authorities. Some of the questions were:
- How transparent and participatory has the process of developing SNC been and how many of the proposals or suggestions of different participants and stakeholders have been adopted? Can a detailed report be shared on this?
- Why has the SNC not been debated on the floor of the Punjab Assembly even though Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N’s) Bushra Butt submitted a resolution in Punjab Assembly to this effect?
- Can the fundamental freedoms argument be used to subvert the Constitution itself? For example, education is a fundamental right given in the constitution. But the constitution also safeguards the rights of the provinces through the 18th amendment.In other words, can the federal government use the concept of fundamental rights of the people, such as the right to education, to prevail over the constitutional rights of provinces delineated in the 18th amendment, through a step such as the Single National Curriculum, considering that the constitutional rights of the provinces are also the rights of the people of those provinces?Should steps such as the Single National Curriculum be interpreted in a manner so as not to cause any inconsistency or conflict between the fundamental rights of citizens and the constitutional rights of provinces?
- As per reports, madrassahs have been given an extended timeframe to adopt the SNC. Will the same concessions be made for private schools as well? If no, why not?
- How will teachers deliver such a heavy new curriculum with no training?
Peter Jacob, a researcher and public policy analyst at the Center for Social Justice said, “Why are we trying to play with the future of our children. Already the pandemic has pulled us back, it is high time that government should think about moving forward with sustainable planning rather than putting the whole nation into chaos.”