The poor results of the Central Superior Services examinations and those conducted by provincial public service commissions in recent years give a good idea of the deplorable state of education in Pakistan. One reason for this state of affairs might be the existence of different curriculums in schools. In prestigious elite English-medium schools, curriculums prepared by well-known international universities are followed and their exams are also conducted by international universities. Urdu-medium and so-called English-medium schools follow curriculums prescribed by indigenous education departments.
The wide gulf in the level of competence — this is not beyond some proficiency in speaking and writing English though — between those educated in prestigious English-medium schools and those in other varieties of schools is evident in daily experience. So it was in the fitness of things that the PTI-led government after it assumed power decided to introduce a uniform curriculum in schools, including religious schools, across the country. It rightly felt that different curriculums are leading to a fractured national psyche. The government is working in right earnest towards this aim. Recently, it announced that a uniform syllabus for class 1 to 5 had been completed but would take a year to implement it in all schools. The phase-2 curriculum (class 6 to 8) would be ready by March 2021 while the phase-3 curriculum (class 9 to 12) would be completed by March 2022. Therefore the uniform curriculum for all classes would be enforced by March 2023.
Now it is unclear whether students in all schools will be provided with textbooks of all subjects in English or not. This raises some pertinent questions like: Will students in public schools, with their weak English, be able to learn fast their subjects in English? Are competent teachers available in such schools to teach subjects in English language? The government should be mindful that such a situation does not slow down students’ learning abilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2020.
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