Education is considered to be vital source of nation-building. In order of ensure national cohesion, integration and preservation of the ideological foundation of the state, certain educational functions are the responsibilities include: curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy and educational standards. After 18th amendment education is being devolved to provincial mandate.
Formation of National Curriculum Council (NCC)
Besides capacity issues, working separately on Curriculum by provinces and areas not only created disconnect between the education and training of the children of nation but also affected quality and standards. For a nation to build itself, there was a need to adhere to a certain common sets of lessons based on Islamic ideology enunciated in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan leading to national cohesion. Hence, there was a great need to devise and maintain common curricula in every field.The National Education Policy (NEP) 2009 continues to be a jointly owned national document ever since the amendment. NEP 2009 assigns Inter Provincial Education Ministerial Conference (IPEMC) the role to oversee educational development including monitoring and review of the NEP. In the light of the aforementioned decision, the formation of the National Curriculum Council (NCC) was approved unanimously by all provinces and areas in the IPEMC held on Feb 11, 2014, with the objective to develop minimum Curriculum that ensures Minimum National Standards in all subjects and emphasizes on national ideology and societal needs.
The National Curriculum Council (NCC) has started coordination for the development of a ‘Single National Curriculum’ (SNC) in the country with active participation of all provinces and other relevant stakeholders. NCC is expected to have:
- An education system for all, in terms of curriculum, education and a common platform
- Social harmony and national unity.
- Eliminate disparities in various disciplines.
- Equal opportunities for top social mobility
- Equality in education.
- Holistic development of children
- Inter-provincial mobility of teachers and students
Comparative studies were conducted to align the SNC with international standards, including comparison of the Pakistani curriculum with Singapore and Cambridge Curricula. Hectic consultations had been held with the provinces on the matter and efforts are being made to implement the single national curriculum in phases from April next year. The consultative process was carried out with engagement of stakeholders from all the provinces and areas, including public and private sector institutions and the federal government educational institutions (FGEIs). In the phase-1, the first draft of the SNC for Grade Pre-I to Class V was developed and shared with all the provinces/areas and the Cambridge University for their input and feedback. Provincial and area workshops were subsequently held in all federating units from November 2019 to January 2020. The government hired the services of Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) of Aga Khan University to ensure value-addition of the SNC and development of teacher training modules and assessment framework. The Input and feedback received from all federating units, FGEIs, AKU-IED and Cambridge University were then collated and consolidated in the second draft of the SNC. This formed the basis for discussions and consensus building during the National Conference on SNC in February 11-14, 2020.
Single National Curriculum (SNC)
The first phase curriculum for grades Pre-1 to V was presented to the prime minister on March 19 for formal approval. After completion of textbooks on the basis of the SNC phase-1 for grades Pre-1 to V, uniform curriculum at primary level would be implemented throughout the country from March 2021. In the second phase, the SNC for Grade VI to VIII would be developed and implemented throughout Pakistan by March 2022 and in third phase development of SNC and textbooks for Grade IX to XII would be done by March 2023.
SNC Development Process
- Pakistan Learners’ Standards comparison with Singapore, Malaysia, UK and Italy standards.
- Includes analysis of the Pakistani curriculum along with the Cambridge curricula.
- Education system for all, in terms of curriculum, source of education and a common platform.
- All children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive a high quality education.
One system of Education for all, in terms of curriculum, medium of instruction and a common platform of assessment which will ensure:
- All children have a fair opportunity to receive high quality education.
- Social Cohesion and National Integration.
- Alleviation of disparities in education content across the multiple streams.
- Equal opportunities for upward social mobility.
- Equity in education.
- Smooth inter-provincial mobility of teachers and students.
Consultation With Stakeholders
- Public sector.
- Private sector.
- Federal Government Educational Institutions
- Cambridge University UK for English, Math’s and Science.
- LUMS and AKU-IED
- All federating units.
Workshops And National Conference
- National workshops on Life-Skills Based Education, Critical Thinking and SDG-4.
- Four-Day Provincial and Area workshops in all federating units.
- The inputs and feedback received was incorporated in the SNC.
Four-Day National Conference on Single National Curriculum from February 11-14, 2020 and the draft was finalized and signed by all the representatives from Federating Units, FGEIs, Private Sector, and Ittehad Tanzimatul Madaris Pakistan
- Teachings of Quran and Sunnah.
- Vision of Quaid and Iqbal.
- Constitutional framework.
- National Policies, Aspirations and National Standards.
- Alignment with the goals & targets of SDG-4.
- Emerging international trends in teaching, learning & assessment.
- Outcomes based approach.
- Focus on Values, Life Skills Based and Inclusive Education.
- Respect & appreciation for different cultures & Religions in local and global context.
- Promotion of intellectual, spiritual, aesthetic, social and physical development of learners.
- Move away from rote memorization & Focus on Project, Inquiry and Activity Based Learning.
- Development of 21st century skills including Analytical, Critical and Creative.
- Thinking. Use of Information & Communication Technology (ICT).
- Alignment with Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
Salient Features Of Single National Curriculum (SNC)
- The SNC is the standards, benchmarks and outcomes based across all subjects.
- Learning outcomes were not developed for each subject curriculum.
- In 2006, the subject of Islamiat was integrated with General Knowledge up to grade 2.
- From grade 3, Islamiat began as a separate subject.
- In the SNC Islamiat starts from grade 1 as a separate subject up to grade 12.
- The subject of Ethics was included for non-Muslim students from Grade 5 onwards.
- Religious education has been introduced for non-Muslim students from the first grade.
- The content for Math and Science has been aligned to the TIMSS content framework.
- The content is aligned to the international commitments like SDG 4.
- The SNC focuses on development of analytical, critical and creative thinking.
- Use of ICT is integrated in the curriculum for the first time.
- The Single National Curriculum (SNC) will be implemented across the board in all schools of Pakistan including government and private schools and DeeniMadaris.
- The Single National Curriculum (SNC) focusses on equipping learners with principles and attributes.
- Bureau of Curriculum
- Textbook Boards
- Teacher Training Institutions (in-service and pre-services)
- Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) X and XII
- National Education Assessment System (IV and VIII) and provincial education
- Assessment centers (PEAC)
- Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) (V and VIII) restricted to the province of Punjab.
- Subject-Wise Salient Features
Process of curriculum development in Pakistan
In Pakistan curriculum syllabus, planning, policy centers of excellence and standards of education are on the concurrent list of the constitution of Pakistan. The federal ministry of education has been empowered through the federal supervision of curriculum.
Currently the education system is three-tier:
- Elementary (grade 1-8):
Primary stage: It comprises of classes I to V and enrolls student of age group 5+ to 9+
Middle stage: It comprises of classes VI to VIII corresponding to age group 10+ to 12+
- Secondary (grade 9 – 12) has two stages
- University programs
- leading to graduate and Masters and advanced degrees
Early Childhood Care And Education (PRE-I)
The ECCE curriculum has been revised keeping in view the local culture and environment alongside modern trends in ECCE and national & international commitments. In this way ECCE is one of the best investments a country. Can create human resource development, promote gender equality and social cohesion.
For disadvantaged children, ECCE plays an important role in compensating for the disadvantages in the family and combating educational inequalities.
Pakistan’s education expenditure is nearly 2 percent of its GDP. On the UNDP human development index (HDI), we are ranked at 152. Uniform education system should mean that across the country all childrengets uniform opportunities to quality education, irrespective of their economic and social background. However there are apprehensions about the scope, content and practicality of implementing the new uniform curriculum. Some feels that SNC is superficial and obliges a vicious agenda that will erase all ethic identities and regional languages. On the other hand Cambridge O-A levels and International Baccalaureate will not be moved. The SNC is designed to bring all children on a level playing field while overcoming gaps of current National Curriculum (of 2006). Hence the very objective of providing equal opportunities for all couldn’t be materialized.
Pakistan’s education system has two major problems:
- Public Sector Schools have failed to deliver quality education
- Teaching at religious seminaries has remained unregulated
It seems that Single National Curriculum (SNC) addresses neither of the two problems. In Pakistan, most public schools are in dire need of investment, for the most basic of infrastructures, such as libraries,laboratories and even toilets. The student dropout at primary level is 40 percentage On the other hand, the madrassas provide free education and with free boarding, and lodging facilities. But madrassas students are ill-prepared for the job market.
As per UNICEF report, 22.8 million children are out of school children. To improve the quality of education, substantial investment in high-quality teachers and textbooks is the need of the day. Surprisingly, SNC doesn’t talk about school vocational training program which ensures practical skills training.
What is required to be done?
There are six key components of education:
- Why to teach (Rationale)
- What to teach (Curriculum)
- How to teach (Learning methods & assessment)
- Where to teach (Infrastructure & facilities)
- Who will manage (Teachers & education managers)
- Who are the beneficiaries
A lack of clarity about the rationale behind our education system leads us to a jumbled-up situation. The rationale behind an education system is to stand-in with critical thinkers and enlightened citizens rather than ideological followers and gullible believers. Once we are clear about the ‘why’ we may move on to the what, how and where. The field of comparative education helps us understand how much to spend on education. The third ‘do’ for a uniform education system is to focus on where children get a stimulating learning environment.
The uniform education system the methods of learning, teaching, and assessment should be aligned with the 21-century practices and requirements. Ensuring that all children are able to learn by making use of activities that suit them. We should develop benchmarks of learning and teaching that incorporate the latest practices and theories of learning and teaching. To do that we need to have a vast cadre in education that is properly qualified and trained, and for that again you need resources.
If we want a better education system, we should suppress the culture of war centered on belligerence and based on chauvinism. If we want a better education system, we should not promote the dominant narrative. We should encourage dynamic and persistent arguments and discussions that may sometimes dispense with the niceties of a harmless discourse. Some arguments supporting the system may appear innocuous but are in fact poisonous. It is displacing whatever socially liberal and tolerant values we have had in our societies. It promotes intimidation and chokes dialogues.
We can offer a uniform education to all children by paring back dauntingly expensive policies that have nothing to do with quality education but would reduce students’ imagination and critical &rational thinking process. We have to be very careful as despotism would to prod their way through our education system. We might have tactical successes but in real sense it would actually be evidence of strategic failure in education.
[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]The author, Nazir Ahmed Shaikh, is a freelance columnist. He is an academician by profession and writes articles on diversified topics. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.[/box]