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February 17, 2020

Experts urge consultation on national curriculum

Lahore

February 17, 2020

Islamabad:While appreciating the work done so far for the development of a single national curriculum, academics and education policy experts during a daylong seminar here were critical of the government's approach for the purpose and stressed the need for making the consultation process more transparent and inclusive by engaging more stakeholders.

They warned the government to be wary of certain elements, who think a single national curriculum would strengthen local culture, history, values, and inhibit popularization of ‘secular’ thoughts; the elite, who want their children to have an edge over children from other social classes; the recipients of foreign funding, who want the Western culture to dominate the social and political arena of Pakistan, as well as the commercial interest groups.

The experts also voiced concerns about malpractices and negative role of private publishers, equivalence of A-Level as intermediate without compulsory subjects of Urdu, Islamiyat and Pakistan Studies, and nonexistence of any government body to regulate the books of O and A levels taught in Pakistan.

The seminar titled 'Educational Dialogue Forum 2020' on 'Uniform Education System: From Conception to Implementation’ was organised by the Institute of Policy Studies.

Among speakers were chief guests including former federal education secretary Sajid Hasan and Riphah International University vice-chancellor Dr Anis Ahmad, joint educational advisor at the National Curriculum Council Muhammad Rafique Tahir, IPS executive president Khalid Rahman and academics Dr Mian Muhammad Akram, Dr Waqar Masood, Prof Rao Jalil Ahmed, Muhammad Hussain Malik, Dr Arshad Saeed Khan, Dr Muhammad Salim, Prof Mehr Saeed Akhtar, Dr Ameer Nawaz Khan and Dr Muhammad Sharif Nizami.

They unanimously appreciated the government's efforts for the development of a uniform national curriculum declaring them a step in the right direction for the country.

The panellists, however, said it should be done with proper backing of the constitution, strengthening the legal foundations of the process, taking input from more stakeholders and addressing the processes and responsibilities with more clarity.

They said any work in the development of a single national curriculum should be preceded by the development of a comprehensive educational policy, outlining the aims of objectives of the curriculum in line with needs and requirements of the nation, also incorporating the medium of instruction, textbooks, teacher training and teaching methodology at length.

The panellists said it was a constitutional obligation that Urdu should be promoted as a primary teaching tool as it will be far more effective for the cognitive learning of children, giving them a better opportunity to understand and excel.

They said many developing countries have experimented with and applied curriculum in their national language, which had proved to be to their advantage.

The panellists, however, warned there would be certain elements who may put hurdles in the way of this good initiative, most prominently those who think national curriculum strengthens local culture, history,

values, and inhibits popularization of ‘secular’ thoughts; the elite, who wanted their children to have an edge over children from other social classes; the recipients of foreign funding, who wanted the Western culture to dominate the social and political arena of Pakistan, as well as the commercial interest groups.

They said private schools had a corporate nature and their interests were a major obstacle in the implementation of a single education system. They said in the past, many policies were formulated but never implemented due to a number of factors, including availability of funds, so powerful political commitment across the board was essential to implement a single national curriculum across the country.

The panellists said good governance had always been a weak factor and therefore, the

policymakers should consider what was desirable and what was doable while setting educational goals. They, however, said there should be no compromise on the quality of a single national curriculum, textbooks and teachers.