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Why criticism on the single national curriculum (SNC) is a welcome step?

One system of education for all, in terms of curriculum, medium of instruction and a common platform of assessment so that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Single National Curriculum is a step in that direction but recently this initiative has received criticism explains, Dr. Zohaib Zahid, an Assistant Professor at Islamia University Bahawalpur.

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Single National Curriculum (SNC) is one of the major breakthroughs given by the PTI government. Excessive knowledge may vary from institute to institute but the basic knowledge must remain the same for all. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has paid special attention to the SNC resulting in its completion after three years of the PTI government.

Professor (R) Pervez Hoodbhoy, an illustrious researcher, Nuclear Physicist and Activist, along with a like-minded school of thought, have raised certain objections as far as the development of the SNC is concerned. They believe the SNC needs to be revised and upgraded for the following reasons.

Read more: South Asians urge for historical representation in UK’s curriculum

The SNC has failed to introduce concept-based learning

Professor Hoodbhoy objects to the essence of the SNC claiming that it is based on a cramming system and the students have not been given an opportunity to make their concepts clear in the SNC. The answer to his first objection is that curriculum development is based on theories, societal priorities, nationalism and the modern scientific approach. The teachers act as tools to help the students to make their concepts clear about any social or scientific content.

An adult can understand the concepts easily unless it is not based on some complex scientific approach (Help is required to understand scientific concepts for adults too) but a child of four or five years old looks forward towards the teacher for concepts. The child adopts whatever is conveyed by the teacher. Objection to the missing conceptual framework in the SNC does not hold water and it should better be addressed by the government by developing a strong mechanism to train the teachers providing them capability and capacity to convey the conceptual knowledge to the children.

The Professor says that cramming is in vogue in Pakistan to attain marks and the contents of the SNC also urge the students to cram and get marks giving secondary importance to the concepts. This objection does not qualify for the development of the SNC and is better linked with the examination system, especially board exams. The performance of the teachers is judged on the basis of the marks obtained by the students, not on the basis of the concepts given to the students. To better perform the teacher finds no other option than to focus on the final exam results. Once the top-notch education policymakers decide to set papers on a concept basis the teachers will have no other choice than to focus on making the concepts clear.

He objects that no one thinks conceptually when the matters are concerned with education and teaching in Pakistan. This objection is valid and based on rational assessment. The examination system is based on cramming and the teachers have been compelled to show good grades, not good concepts. No effort has ever been made to transform the examination system. The objection can be addressed by evaluating the performance of the teachers on the basis of good concepts, not on good grades.

Read more: How Pakistan’s curriculum is biased against women

The situation has been prevalent since the creation of Pakistan

He raises the objection that learning the Ahadith and Quranic verses in Arabic will put immense pressure on the minds of the students. He supports his argument by saying that Arabic is not our mother tongue and learning Arabic will leave no space in the minds of the children resulting in poor performance. He has criticized the SNC developers for making it compulsory to learn the Arabic verses which will be of no good in either way. This objection is based on his personal opinion as the children in Pakistan learn the subjects of science and mathematics in English putting pressure on the young minds. Similarly, learning Ahadith and Quranic verses will not affect the learning capacity of the children.

Mr. Hoodbhoy objects to the curriculum development committee for their haste to publish the books. He opines the SNC developers must have waited for others’ concerns too so that it could have been addressed before publishing. He argues that the scientific topics included in classes one to five are the traditional ones and this objection is justified because the most modern scientific theories and experiments need to be taught to the students at the earliest level.

He draws the attention of the government towards an alarming situation of millions of children not attending the schools and the development of the SNC is futile as half of the children do not join the schools. Administrative measures must be taken by the government to get all the children enrolled in the schools.

Read more: Single National Curriculum set to be introduced in primary classes

The country is lagging behind in education and the discussion on the development of the curriculum is a healthy activity that must be welcomed by all the circles. The criticism will help to bring improvement to the education system and curriculum. A number of circles take the criticism as an attack on their ideology which is a gross misconception as the positive criticism makes headway if analyzed rationally.

Dr. Zohaib Zahid is an Assistant Professor at Islamia University Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan Campus. His Twitter handle is: @ChaudaryZohaib.The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

 

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