The Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) government seems on track at least as far as education reforms are concerned, but it will have to be careful about not overlooking certain important features in its haste to implement its new curriculum in time for the start of the next academic year; due in August 2021. The Single National Curriculum (SNC) will be applicable to all grades from pre-1 to five and will also apply to madressahs that register with the government. That is good news, especially since the madressah system, despite whatever limitations it has had so far, has taken the responsibility of imparting education to many thousands, even millions, of students across the country without so much as asking for a penny from the education ministry. And reforms that will bring their curricula in line with mainstream schools will no doubt be very beneficial for the whole nation.
However, a few issues still need clarification. Going by the statements of Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood, so far it seems that the new curriculum would be adopted by all public schools, whereas private schools would also have to follow it in spirit though they can, if they like, prescribe textbooks of their own choice as long as they don’t depart from the SNC. It’s also not yet known if all students from both public and private schools are going to be taught the same things and made to appear for similar examinations. Or would the system provide for certain similarities between the two and private schools can add other things of their choice to their own syllabi?
Hopefully the government would have put in provisions to ensure that students, especially from the madressahs, are not unduly burdened because of the reforms. For, whatever points they are going to agree with the government on and whichever new courses they introduce, it is understood that they will not cut out too much from what they already teach. So the greatest care must be taken to keep students from burning out. Also, the matter of training enough teachers for what seems like a Herculean task, that too by August, must also have been foremost on the government’s mind. These are very important steps and the government should be congratulated for accomplishing such thorough reforms in only half an electoral cycle. Hopefully all steps in this process will get the kind of attention and funds they need for the entire exercise to be a complete success. At stake, after all, is the very future of the whole nation.