Single National Curriculum is a must
for social cohesion and National Integration
This Essay by Mr Muhammad Noman was declared winner of the 4th JWT Essay Competition with 57 marks. The essays sent by Dr Saadullah (55 marks) and Faraz Ali (52 marks) have secured second and third position, respectively. These essays will be published in the upcoming issues of JWT.
Ahmad and Farhan are the citizens of the same country. Ahmad being a student of a well-reputed college is going to apply for Stanford but Farhan, being a student of a lower-class college, and with entire education in a different medium, submits his application in an average local institute to pursue higher studies. Non-uniformity in the curriculum has created a gap between the opportunities available for, rich and the poor, leading to disintegration in society. Implementation of a Single National Curriculum at all levels of education ties the society together by eliminating a major disparity which, later on, may prove to be the root cause of other social divides. Single National Curriculum aims to achieve cohesion and integration in society by gathering all and sundry on a single platform to achieve their goals in life. It overlooks the divisions in society which are based on class, colour, language, social status, religion and culture, and provides a strong reason to remain united. The effective implementation of the policy of Single National Curriculum is based on inclusion of all forms of knowledge coming from different cultures, introduction of modern methods of learning and focusing on the development of critical thinking among students.
Single National Curriculum provides a foundation to eliminate one major cause of disintegration among different segments of society. Social divides are created due to lack of available opportunities for earning livelihood which are the result of different categories or standards of graduates produced as a result of non-uniform curriculum in educational institutions. Those who have secured a relatively ‘higher’ standard of education are able to grab the available opportunities leaving the deprived ones frustrated. Single National Curriculum can prove to be a head-start for the less privileged by providing them quality education regardless of their social status and background. In the long run, it will result in the reduction of gap among different segments of society, thus, ensure social cohesion and national integration.
Single National Curriculum aims to provide same sets of knowledge to students coming from all social classes. Whether it is a small local school/college or a nationally famous school/college, the syllabi taught to the students would be the same. In Pakistan, most of the schools in the rural areas teach the students in regional languages, whereas, on the other hand, schools in the urban areas have standardized their medium of instruction to be English. Also, apart from difference in the medium of instruction, the content or syllabi also differ greatly depending on the board or system of education which is being followed. The objective of Single National Curriculum is to ensure one medium of instruction in the entire country, and introduce same syllabi and system of examination in all parts of the country.
The society categorizes the individuals coming from different systems of education when they enter practical lives. Those coming from elite and modern schools and colleges are considered privileged while those coming from humble and unfamous institutes are given the second category. Different mediums of instruction and systems of education serve as a reason for creation of social divide. Uniformity of medium of instruction and syllabi through the establishment of Single National Curriculum provides the individuals from all backgrounds a level playing field to pursue their future goals.
Professional organizations and industries while recruiting new employees give preference to the graduates of well-known institutes keeping in view their ability to work in developed environments. Those coming from rural areas and underprivileged educational institutes have to suffer unemployment or they are forced to do underpaid jobs not because of their qualification but because of the lack of conformity of their educational background with the elite class. For example, in Pakistan, this divide is exhibited by the private organizations when they decide different academic thresholds for students coming from different institutions. Though these divides are not exhibited openly but they continue to remain a criterion in the minds of employers. Similar situation exists in our neighbour, India where students are striving to somehow get enrolled in few prestigious institutions by hook or by crook. Uniformity in the curriculum would result in the development of more prestigious institutes and ensure uniform employment process for all individuals.
Single national curriculum can certainly bind the society together through the inculcation of like ideas related to different aspects of knowledge. It can ensure the development of a positive national narrative by the inclusion of such areas of knowledge in the curriculum. According to the 18th Amendment to the constitution of 1973 in Pakistan, education is a provincial subject; the education curriculum falls in the domain of concurrent subjects on which the centre can make effective policies to establish national unity through the effective enforcement of Single National Curriculum.
Uniformity in the curriculum has the capability of establishing national unity by imparting the same sets of knowledge in the minds of individuals with the objective of creating patriotism and social cohesion. Along with uniformity in the syllabi of different subjects, students should by imparted with areas of knowledge related to their religion, history, culture and other national aspects which are common in all regions of the country. A thorough understanding of the national subjects will certainly unite different segments of society which were earlier divided either due to lack of knowledge or a biased knowledge provided in a limited domain.
Due to different systems and standards of education in different regions, the existing disparity; be it social, economic or political, increases manifold with the passage of time with the availability of a level playing field for individuals from different regions, the existing gap can be significantly minimized itself with the passage of time. In Pakistan, regions like Balochistan, rural Sindh, tribal areas, etc. continuously feel more frustrated due to increase in disparities towards them. Students coming from these areas are unable to secure good jobs and quality education because of a heterogenous system of education that exists in Pakistan. The introduction of Single National Curriculum will bring individuals from these areas at par with the individuals from developed regions so that they can compete for better opportunities and develop sentiments of unity instead of deprivation.
Consistency in the medium of instruction and syllabi is pivotal to developing the feelings of nationhood among individuals. Diversity in curricula leads to the development of sentiments of regionalism or provincialism and working for national interests takes the back seat. These feelings may be exhibited directly or indirectly. Several appointments in the government departments of Pakistan go unallocated because candidates belonging to deprived regions are unable to meet the minimum criterion to be appointed. The reason is the unavailability of quality education in those areas. The effective implementation of Single National Curriculum will enable individuals from less privileged areas to struggle for national interests instead of fighting for regional interest.
The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MOFEPT) of Pakistan presented its Single National Curriculum Policy in October 2020. The implementation of this policy was divided into three phases with first phase of Single National Curriculum in primary grade to be implemented till March, 2021. Second phase of Single National Curriculum in elementary level to be implemented till March 2022 and third phase of Single National Curriculum in secondary and higher secondary level to be implemented till March 2023. Such steps will certainly help in the development of common positive ideas in society and enhance their perspectives of thinking.
Heterogeneity in the political systems is observed when representatives from different regions appear divided on the issues of national interest due to existence of different foundations of knowledge related to the affairs of the state. Very few individuals prefer national interest over regional interest due to increased disparities among different regions. When people would be imparted education with the objective of keeping national interest a priority and with the regional gap being reduced with the passage of time, a strong and positive political system will be established which will be more practical in achieving goals of public good. The economy of any country is highly dependent on indicators of human development, gender equality, education, etc. The impacts of Single National Curriculum on education are definitely positive and with reducing the disparities, it ensures rapid human development and same sets of knowledge for all, whether rich or poor, men or women and strong or weak. Thus, Single National Curriculum may not be the only but a major step to achieve goals of progressive and sustainable economy.
To obtain maximum output from the policy of Single National Curriculum, time-to-time improvements and reinforcements are necessary. It must be conforming to evolving modern techniques of learning and development of arguments and results based on thorough research and analysis. The Single National Curriculum policy of Pakistan incorporates the techniques of activity-based learning, and development of critical thinking among students. It also involves the inclusion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in learning process. Along with knowledge of national subjects like constitution, the knowledge of history, maths, science, technology and engineering (STEM approach) should also be included conforming with modern trends. It must be ensured that this policy is implemented effectively in all areas whether rural or urban, rich or poor.
To cap it all, Single National Curriculum is necessary to promote national cohesion and integration. It has all the potential to break the shackles of disintegration and develop new senses of unity and conformity. The feelings of disharmony, frustration and deprivation due to heterogeneous education and lack of equal opportunities will kick the bucket once all the populace is nurtured with same sets of knowledge conforming to the emerging trends and modern methods. Every policy which aims to ensure integration and cohesion is futile unless the individuals are brought up with varied sets of localized syllabi. Individuals from every part of the country can only stand firm for a national cause if similar senses of national interest are developed in their minds. The policy of Single National Curriculum is like hitting the bull’s eye to achieve this coveted objective.