Of late, a concerted campaign has been started by vested interests to discredit the remarkable effort made by the government to devise a single national curriculum (SNC) for all schools in Pakistan. Some of the falsehoods being spread are as follows:
An Ulema Board has decreed that all human figures in the Biology textbooks of the SNC be covered with appropriate clothes to protect their modesty. Qaris from madrassahs would be appointed in all schools, public and private, to teach the Holy Quran.
The SNC discriminates against minorities.
The answer to these untruths are as follows:
The Single National Curriculum has so far only been approved till grade V. Biology is a subject that is taught beginning from Grade IX and no textbooks for Biology have so far been finalized. The federal government’s approval process for Science textbooks does not involve any consultation with the Muttahida Ulema Board, and so any claim that the Board has prohibited the inclusion of any diagrams or educational material from the Biology textbooks is factually inaccurate. Science textbooks are being developed in close consultation with renowned local and international experts, and will not be approved for publishing until it is determined that they meet the required global benchmarks.
It is, however, true that Punjab Assembly has approved a law whereby an Ulema Board approves all Islamic content in the curriculum. The Punjab government has informed the Federal Ministry that no change was made in the Biology textbooks by the said Board.
No such order has been made by the government at any level. The teaching of Qirat to Muslim students is a part of the Islamiyat curriculum and is mandatory to foster their religious learning. This instruction can be provided by the existing Islamiat or Religious Studies teachers, or the school can hire anyone they deem fit. This does not preclude anyone, including graduates of madrassahs, but the decision of who to hire is of the individual school, whether public or private and not of the Federal Government.
The Curriculum discriminates against minorities.
Totally not true. The Single National Curriculum is a historic initiative introduced to eliminate Pakistan’s long-standing class-based education system and create equal educational standards for all the students of Pakistan, regardless of race, class, gender, and any other arbitrary marker. It is being developed with expert input from all segments of society and is being designed in line with the pedagogical needs of the 21st century.
The Islamic content in the curriculum is strictly according to an act of parliament enacted in 2017. The title of the act is “The Compulsory Teaching of Holy Quran Act 2017” and is mandatory on all federal institutions. This was also later adopted by all the provinces except Sindh.
The SNC has also taken special care to ensure that no material in it offends the sensibilities of any of the minorities in Pakistan. In fact, it is for the first time that a separate special curriculum has been prepared for Hindus, Christians, Bahais, Sikhs, and Kalaash. Ministry’s entire attempt has been to ensure that the curriculum is not only reflective of all Pakistanis but promotes tolerance, peace, and brotherhood among all communities in the country.