The SNC approach doesn’t take into account the fact that uniformity is achieved gradually
Despite having the vision of a uniform education, we have digressed into an irrational-sounding debate. If key concepts are not urgently understood now, a tremendous opportunity will be lost.
In the 2006 National Curriculum Review three major issues were highlighted, first that the gap between various public and private systems is overblown. High-end education providers continue to focus their attention on state-of-the-art campuses, temperature controlled swimming pools and expensive co-curriculars. Second, that we must stop undermining our teachers; in this day and age we must accept their role as facilitators and not scholars, augmenting the process of learning with support from global digital resources – not a problem with the advent of 4G and 5G internet. That total immersion method is to be applied right away, making teacher trainings an auto-correct procedure. Thirdly, that assessment models can be modified and synchronized with the rest of the world, with minimum effort before the next examinations. Concluding that, if the end result is acceptable the means through which it was achieved stand validated, helping Pakistani students leapfrog to the future with little or no systematic change.
However, this approach and that of the SNC, don’t take into account the fact that uniformity is gained gradually and must remain a thoroughly inclusive notion. In order to make sure that all stakeholders whether public or private are able to thrive equally, and future generations are nurtured as per national requirements. Diversity – will always be our greatest strength, so long as deprivation has no place in our systems.
The total mix of about 37,500,000 in state schools and private schools, 495,000 in O/A Level/ Baccalaureate systems including purpose-built campuses, as well as sprawling public schools such as Sadiq and Aitchison, 2,550,000 in Madrassahs, and close to 1,250,000 in other institutions and around 21.5 million of out-of-school children sum up the educational landscape of Pakistan. Where there is excess and deficiency; promise and anguish of various systems, our job should be to draw upon the positive and relevant attributes of all of them, with the state leading and not delegating such an imperative feat.
Curriculum/specifications have been in place since before 1947, amended through the years, (last in 2006) hence there is no requirement for developing a new scheme or syllabus. The target should be to synchronise all rural to urban, high-end to low-end schools.
Precious time and resources spent on NCC or writing new books can be better utilised in getting the out-of-school children into formal education. The formula is to provide the minimum standard material in form of books and/or even loosely printed material initially, and broadcast/screen/augment through monitors/speakers and USBs for those at the bottom of the pecking order so that the feeling of being under-privileged is gone forever and a sense of pride sets in.
Moreover, it will be a major error to challenge or disturb any on-going systems. We are at a loss to understand the requirement of the government to speak to elite schools regarding this initiative, as it is not those we are planning to upgrade: we are leaving them to continue as they are and energising the ones that are less privileged. It is also high time to shun the notion that these schools are providing better learning, just because they are expensive; that relieves our planners to focus on the planning on a level playing field.
Let us expose our learners to the best out there - It is now within easy reach due to the digital disruption and flexible and distributive learning mechanisms of our age.
And last but not the least, how very kind of the prime minister, to point out the inadequate nourishment of many children. Let us get them in school, where we as a dairy producing nation should be able to offer them a glass of milk a day with a few biscuits. People in charge of this task have to gear up and be enthusiastic about it. It is pessimistic to only think about April 2021, as the date when perhaps something would be done regarding primary education. We need to get this up and running before the end of this year up till Class 10 and beyond which is very much in our grasp; motivation is needed to achieve and transform this apologetic stance to a more can-do mode.