‘Single National Curriculum’ or More Brainwashing of Young Pakistanis?


The Imran Khan led PTI government has put forth a Single National Curriculum (SNC). While Cambridge O-A levels and International Baccalaureate will not be touched by this the “yoking ordinary schools to madressahs will impair the reasoning capacity of children and job competitiveness.”

As author and academic, Pervez Hoodbhoy, wrote recently “What is SNC and why must it be feared? Parts of it are perfectly innocuous. The new stuff regarding secular subjects is actually rehashed old stuff. Cutting through the verbiage one sees that the released PTI curriculum is a near perfect copy of Gen Musharraf’s 2006 curriculum. Of course, neither was accompanied by implementation plans or financial outlays. What’s dangerous and different is that — for the first time in Pakistan’s history — ordinary schools will be yoked to madressahs. Students in both streams will use the same curriculum and books, and take the same exams. But this is like forcing someone to board two trains at the same time, one going north and the other south. It doesn’t matter which train’s engines and carriages are in good condition or bad. What matters is that they have different destinations. The analogy is not far-fetched.”

As Hoodbhoy notes “Hybridising madressahs with secular schools has been tried but failed. Modern-era progressive Muslim leaders like Muhammad Ali of Egypt and Kemal Ataturk of Turkey discovered this well over a century ago. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries are following. They’ve figured out that worldly success in the 21st century is difficult for students who go through the 11th-century education system of Nizam-ul-Mulk.”

Finally, according to Hoodbhoy, “A government that’s serious about levelling the playing field for all Pakistani children should not go for cheap shots like single national curriculum. Instead, it must develop what every modern education system needs: school infrastructure, a proper student assessment and examination system, trained teachers who can teach the designed syllabus, and good textbooks. Pakistan is severely deficient in all these areas.”


Author: Ali Chughtai