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Single National Curriculum also politicized?

The Punjab government has transferred Education Department Secretary Ghulam Farid, who was implementing the SNC in Punjab. His replacement, Imran Sikandar Baloch, has directed the officials concerned to block all efforts to implement the former government’s initiative of SNC

Pakistan has done many experiments with its education system to improve it but the one introduced by Lord Macaulay sustained in the end. The main reason Macaulay designed an education system was to strengthen the foreign occupation of the subcontinent. Moreover, he wanted to keep the people enslaved and produce clerks. Last but not the least, an experiment in the education sector was the introduction of Single National Curriculum (SNC) by the former PTI government. The purpose, as the SNC proponents claim, was to end disparity and provide equal opportunities to all to excel.

The PTI big wigs, policymakers and federal educational ministry had after long brooding devised the single national curriculum. The PTI government had introduced the SNC from grade 1 to grade 5 in the first phase. In the second phase, it was to be implemented in the middle classes. After the regime change in Lahore and Islamabad, the PMLN-led government has decided to roll back the SNC in the middle classes.

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An officer spoke his mind about the SNC, saying it was an agenda-driven move of the ousted government. Talking about the new government’s vision, he said that it had been decided not to continue many of the former government’s policies on social change. SNC is one of them. The PTI planned to change the minds of the new generation by ending a variety of syllabi. He said the PTI policymakers wanted to produce extremists in the educational institutions. He alleged that it was former PM Imran Khan’s agenda.

He admitted that the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) has already barred the publishers from publishing grade 6 to 8 books. Moreover, the publishing of Islamic studies book for grade 9 has also been stopped. He said that the previous government turned a deaf ear to many educational and human rights activists who had termed SNC a violation of the constitution.

The Punjab government has also transferred Education Department Secretary Ghulam Farid, who was implementing the SNC in Punjab. Health Secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch has been posted as the new secretary of education. In his first meeting, Baloch discussed the issue in detail and directed the concerned to block all efforts to implement the former government’s initiative of SNC. Sources said that the main purpose of bringing Baloch into the education department was to reverse all the PTI government’s initiatives. Baloch was not available for comments.

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Many educationists have termed the incumbent government’s ending of the SNC a political move. They said that it would go against the national cause and that SNC was the solution to escalating polarization in society. Educationist Raza Rehman said that the SNC is a national asset and could play an important role in the education system of Pakistan. He said that no patriotic Pakistani or an educationist board welcomed the decision of rolling back SNC.

He asked the government to take steps after consulting all the stakeholders and that reversing all the good steps taken by another government could not be lauded. He said that instead of rolling back the entire SNC, the government should improve it and remove any deficiencies in the curriculum. It must be recalled that the PTI Punjab government had gone to the extent of warning Aitchison College for not implementing Lesson C in its entirety.

Former education minister of Punjab Murad Ras had himself tweeted, saying “letter sent to Aitchison College Lahore for not implementing Single National curriculum in its entirety by Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board. Zero exemptions. I will not let anyone challenge the writ of the government.” The then federal education minister Shafqat Mahmood had also posted a tweet on the issue, and it read: “There is no exemption for Aitchison College or any other school.”

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a public sector university’s vice chancellor said that rising above politics, the PTI decision to introduce and implement a Single National Curriculum across the board in public and private educational institutions was a historic step. He said that there is a vast divide and polarization in all the segments of society, and the only solution was SNC. He said that the education system we have adopted in schools colleges and universities is counterproductive and that a research-oriented and IT-based education system is the need of the hour. The declining position of Pakistan in education, justice, science, research and all other sectors should be alarming for the policymakers, he added.

Asif Ali, a parent, said that all his four children study different curricula in different schools.

He said that this has not only disturbed the society but the family system as well. There is no single thought in my house, he said. The need is to introduce SNC for national harmony, ending disparity and ensuring equality for all in all walks of life, but politics ruined it too.

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