The PTI government’s pursuit for one curriculum for the whole country, in line with its election pledge, has not had a smooth start. The first meeting of the National Curriculum Council (NCC) — which was held to develop a consensus on introducing a uniform system of education in the country — had no representation from Sindh. Neither the education minister nor the secretary from the country’s second-biggest province, in terms of population, attended the meeting. While there is no official word as to their absence from the NCC’s maiden meeting, the devolution argument appears to have been the reason behind the non-representation of Sindh. There is no dearth of PPP leaders who have raised objections to the federal government’s handling of education-related matters, given the devolution of the subject to the provinces after the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment.
Moreover, private schools too do not seem to stomach the one-curriculum concept as easily as the government may have been expecting them to. While there are no reports of any notable objection from private schools representatives during the NCC meeting, they did take the opportunity to make it a point that international schools are permitted throughout the world. And that does drop a hint that private schools may not be willing to accept a government-devised curriculum straightaway. The representation of another major stakeholder at the NCC meeting — i.e. religious seminaries — came through renowned religious scholar Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, who is the Chairman of the central moon-sighting committee of the government. Whether Mufti Muneeb has the mandate to speak for the educational boards of the various seminaries being run in the country is quite a valid question.
There is no denying that the government efforts for one curriculum are based on good intent, meant to abolish the class-based education system in the country that has only served to divide the nation over the years. But the mission at hand is not an easy one, given the fact that there are too many stakeholders with varying aims and objectives.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2019.