In line with his party’s manifesto for a national curriculum, Minister of State for Education Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Balighur Rehman has sent letters to four chief ministers, seeking recommendations from all the provinces regarding the structure and main features of the uniform curriculum.
The minister has urged chief ministers to ensure a uniform standard in syllabus for both public and private schools at all levels across the country. The letter particularly seeks recommendations on topics like national ideology, common values and maintenance of minimum standards in each subject.
Rehman has also hinted at numerous occasions that the structure of examination papers should encourage conceptual studies, instead of rote learning and cramming.
The proposed commission for a national curriculum will have representation from all provinces and federal territories. Education secretaries and experts from all provinces would comprise the commission, which will be headed by each province and the federal government on a rotational basis.
In Pakistan, efforts are underway to mould the curriculum in accordance with ideological, moral and cultural values as well as national requirements in the fields of science, technology, medicine, engineering and agriculture etc.
Senior Research Associate at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Ahmad Salim, who is currently working on textbooks and curriculum of Pakistani schools, says there is a need for serious change, not reforms in the education curriculum.
“The biggest issue is that we are teaching our children Urdu which contains Islamiat, which in itself is a subject. Thus directly or indirectly a child has to study Islamiat whether he is Muslim or not,” he said.
Mosharraf Zaidi from Alif Ailaan, a non-profit organisation welcomed the decision and was of the view that a curriculum based on national identity and uniformity cannot be formed without the participation of provinces.
“Provincial governments should own it,” he said adding that it was worth appreciating that a national curriculum was being formed.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2013.