The first phase of the much touted Single National Curriculum (SNC) is being taught across Punjab. Initially, the children from grade 1 to 5 are being covered in the first phase. Next year, the students from grade 6 to 8 will be included while by 2023, it will be extended from grade 8 up to 12. On paper, the scheme seems to be a lofty one.
However, experts, educationists and those with interest in our education system, have raised questions over the aim and viability of the government initiative to provide a uniform education to all. First of all, experts have questioned the inclusion of excessive religious material at all levels. They argue that the overdose of religious content will further indoctrinate the young minds. Secondly, the subject of Islamiat and Deenyat have been made compulsory for all grades making it inconvenient for minority students to study in the same class along with muslim classmates. Educationists term it against the spirit of Article 22 which explicitly states that no individual will be required to acquire such an education which is against his or her religious teachings.
It impliedly makes the state responsible for ensuring the implementation of safeguards against any such move. Thirdly, the step is also considered as an encroachment upon the provinces’ domain to formulate curriculum and education policies for respective areas. The subject of education has been devolved to the provinces under the 18th amendment in 2010. As a result, Sindh has already refused to implement the SNC in the province making it less likely a national program.
Fourthly, it is viewed as one more step towards the elimination of better education by private institutions as compared to the public ones. It is further castigated as depriving the parents of their right to send children to education institutions of their own choice. Since the first phase has been unveiled, it has emerged that the medium of instructions will be Urdu. Imposition of a certain language on all is against the diverse nature of the society and can impede the growth of several regional languages.
By doing so, the government may inadvertently antagonize some sections and ethnicities of the country which live with a sense of insecurity and deprivation. Research has proved that children learn faster and easier in their mother tongue rather than being taught in some alien language. Fifthly, the proposed curriculum will reportedly be taught at over 30000 seminaries in the country raising eyebrows among the masses. People seriously doubt the initiative as seminaries can not easily agree to a curriculum against their established system of education.
Lastly, fingers are being pointed at the scheme as to how it will help in imparting uniform education when 23 million children are still out of school?
Therefore, instead of taking hasty decisions for political point scoring, the government must ponder over bringing improvement in the existing educational infrastructure. Also, teachers training and related issues must also be addressed at the earliest.