The Single National Curriculum, heralded as the most significant education policy in decades, is receiving criticism for promoting regressive values and being a setback for education. Many elite educational institutes, including the prime minister’s alma mater, have refused to adopt the curriculum.
The project began three years ago when the PTI come to power, vowing to unify all the educational systems including madrassahs in the country. The policy which is now being implemented at primary level in two provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, faced many hurdles as textbooks were changed completely. Now many subjects including Pakistan Studies, Islamiat and General Knowledge are being taught in Urdu rather than English, whereas English is being taught as a language rather than a subject.
A large number of private schools particularly in Punjab have still not implemented the curriculum, putting the government’s plan in jeopardy. They have decried that alternate textbooks have not been provided and all educational institutes must get approval for any supplementary reading matter. The Punjab government, rather than addressing their concerns, has threatened to cancel the registration of schools for failing to implement the curriculum.
The curriculum has also received flak for promoting regressive values such as those regarding the role of women. A picture from the textbook cover showing hijab-clad girls sitting on the floor while men were perched on a couch has raised objections. The books have defined the responsibilities of women within the home and considered them as supporters of men. These narratives have no place in the world today and are considered a step back in women empowerment and building an egalitarian society.
The Sindh government has refused to implement the single national curriculum, for now at least, saying it will review whether it is better than the current curriculum. Many stakeholders are concerned on what the government wants to achieve by implementing the project. For many students and teachers, the transition from English to Urdu will be rather difficult. There are concerns whether the standards are par with the rest of the world to take the modern-day challenges.
The slogan of ‘one nation, one curriculum’ seems impressive but rather difficult to implement. We cannot raise a generation engrained with archaic thoughts and concepts. The government should implement a progressive curriculum as we are living in a globalised world and cannot afford to be left behind in the field of education.