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Single National Curriculum – SNC
The curriculum refers to what is taught in a particular grade, course, and subject. It is an interactive, system of instruction and learning with specific goals, topics, strategies, measurement, and resources.
Single National Curriculum – SNC has been designed as a single vision. It is based on the concept of universal education for all. It has a single curricular structure that applies to all classes, and the medium of instruction remains the same from grade 1 to 12.
Single National Curriculum became talk of the town when it was launched in early 2020 by the then PTI government. Since then, proponents and opponents have published huge amount of material, which includes research articles, surveys, analyses, opinion pieces, and what not. Politicians, journalists, educationists, private school owners, public school teachers, and the public have been participating in this debate. Through SNC, all provincial governments were forced to implement a common system of education, in terms of curriculum, medium of instruction, and assessment, to ensure that all children across Pakistan get a fair and equal opportunity to receive high quality education.
In Pakistan, education is imparted through three large channels, each of which has enormous power. There are public schools which follow the prescribed syllabi, there are private schools who follow their own syllabi, and there are madrassahs where the focus is on religious education. The diversity of channels is contributing towards social inequality, gender gap, and religious intolerance. SNC aims to address these issues.
I shall try to filter the most relevant points for the purpose of our understanding.
SNC, if applied in its true spirit, is likely to reduce social inequality over time. This is the biggest argument in favor of SNC.
Migration for students will become easy because everywhere they will find the same curriculum. This is a big advantage for students whose parents may have to relocate due to jobs.
SNC will help promote national cohesion and integration which is at stake right now. Many factions are protesting because they feel they are not being treated well and at par with others. Social unrest is simmering all over the country, The implementation of SNC will help close the gap and make playing field level for everyone.
Public schools have deteriorated over time, and the quality of their education has gone down considerably. Implementation of SNC will uplift the public school system.
Pakistan has struggled for a national identity since long. The SNC may help forge national cohesion and identity.
SNC will provide equal opportunity to all children for receiving quality education and will alleviate inequalities in the educational system.
SNC will facilitate minorities for their religious, cultural, and economic development. It will also promote national, cultural harmony.
SNC will promote complete development of children through emphasis on understanding, skills, and positive attitude. It will also help develop personality via practice of patience, tolerance, compassion, and citizenship.
Competencies, such as English language learning, Math, Science, ICT shall be developed.
Sindh Minister for Education outrightly rejected it saying that after 18th amendment, provinces have the sole authority over education, curricula designs, and exam system. The federal government does not have authority over this area and should not try to enforce SNC. He said that Sindh shall not implement SNC. The federal government had no reply to this argument, and it backed off. It was announced that the implementation of SNC shall go ahead minus Sindh.
Private school owners rejected it because it directly hit their economic interests. Every private school boasts about their exclusive curriculum and charges excessively on this basis. If everyone followed SNC, it will be like selling generic drugs rather than branded ones. Their exclusivity and hegemony are lost.
Public school teachers were worried that they were not prepared to teach under this system. They will have to undergo training to enable them to teach as per the new requirement.
Regional forces objected that the SNC did not recognize the regional languages adequately. They insisted on teaching in native language in the early years.
A significant disadvantage of SNC is its lack of flexibility. It may stifle creativity and may act as a change limitation. The teachers may feel they are losing professional judgment and independence.
Our biggest problem is over 22 million out-of-school children. The SNC does not address this major issue.
A large number of students studying at Madrassahs are not exposed to compulsory subjects. The SNC does not address this issue.
The biggest factor for children not attending schools is poverty. The SNC does not address that. It also does not address the gender gap.
Education is a subject on which lot has been written, is being written, and shall continue to be written. The education, and the lack of it both, are complex issues which cannot be addressed by a single national curriculum alone. Comprehensive, multidimensional, and multipronged policies and programs are required to lift the status of education in Pakistan and make it a driver for change.
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