Will PTI fulfil its promise

PTI’s main pillar behind asking for the votes was uniform educational system in the country.

Curriculum changes require immense time and effort, but, unfortunately, politics is about instant results – a reality this country has been suffering from for years now wherein political leaders, with an eye on the next election, prefer projects that deliver instantly. However, something as sensitive and important as school curriculum should surely not be rushed, incorporate the input of all stakeholders of society and only be implemented once it enjoys ownership across the board. While the federal education minister’s acknowledgement that curricula and textbooks are not static, and that all feedback on the SNC will be considered during its review is a much welcome development, that should not be the end of the story. What is most required is an open and honest attempt to clarify all reservations expressed by educationists and parents alike.

https://a5314423383ed8039a33f389501d78b8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html If the SNC is indeed an ‘experiment’, it would be prudent to ask why it could not have been rolled out on a limited scale to assess loopholes and incorporate public reaction, instead of the same happening now when the lessons are already being taught in classrooms. Critics have also been asking about the transparency issues in the exercise – who all are the stakeholders that were consulted and what were their inputs, and where can parents access the complete updated syllabus? Any information vacuum will always just end up compounding confusion, which is what we have been seeing a lot of – especially among parents who can only rely on their own children’s textbooks or snippets of pages being shared on social media, some of them not even from the SNC. Cursory analysis of some textbooks has revealed both the good and the disturbing. There has encouragingly been an emphasis on tolerance, animal rights, and the environment. However, there are also serious concerns regarding some of the portrayal of women and girls in our society and references to the majority religion in non-religious subjects – a longstanding concern of minority groups. Instead of responding to these genuine apprehensions, those calling for a review of the SNC have been dubbed by government officials as ‘resisting’ uniform education.

Curricula shape our collective future. Which is why any reservations or concerns need to be treated gently – not by taunting people about being ‘mafias’ or ‘foreign-influenced elite’. There is a larger debate regarding the SNC; it cannot be wished away. There is also a debate regarding how women are portrayed in textbooks, in the media; that too cannot be brushed aside. Minority communities in the country do feel cornered by the majoritarian approach to things; that is a valid concern as well. The PM is not wrong in wishing to reform the education system in the country. But the SNC cannot possibly be a magic wand that fixes what is essentially broken in the education system: low budgets and enrolment, lack of quality teachers and teaching, dilapidated buildings, exorbitantly high fees at private institutes. What is most required is for all provinces – since education is a provincial subject – to revamp their education sectors and enhance implementation capacity. Unless the capacity of teachers and school structures are adequate, even the best curriculum – single or multiple – will remain confined to books. Surely, the end goal for any education system is producing students who think critically and are equipped to meet the modern world’s challenges. That does not necessarily come with uniformity.

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