We can’t develop a single national curriculum only on the basis of Pakistan Studies and Islamic Studies so it needs major changes

We can’t develop a single national curriculum only on the basis of Pakistan Studies and Islamic Studies. Our examination system and textbooks need major changes. There’s no freedom to ask questions or freedom of expression at universities. The federal government intends to encroach upon the provinces’ education sector.

These views were expressed by panellists at a session titled ‘Hundred Years of Our Education’ at the Arts Council, where the 13th International Urdu Conference is being held.

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said on the occasion that he had opposed the idea to close educational institutions during the provincial education ministers’ meeting on November 23.

“I was forced to follow the decision taken by the federal education minister because the federal government can influence the provincial governments to implement the decision to close schools during the second wave of Covid-19.”

Commenting on the quality of education, Ghani said the government can’t achieve the goals set for improving the literacy rate until the involvement of community members.

He said they must own the schools functioning in their areas. He also stressed the need to work tirelessly for fixing the poor system of education.

Vulnerable sector

In his keynote address, moderator Syed Jaffar Ahmed said that this year we have observed education is one of the most vulnerable sectors. He said that many speculations and diverse opinions regarding education and the national curriculum have surfaced during the pandemic.

“So, these issues need to be discussed. We have to highlight the changes that have occurred in our system of education during the past century, especially after Partition.”

Ahmed said the numbers of schools, colleges and universities have increased and new fields of studies have been introduced. Likewise, the literacy rate has been raised, he added.

“These are positive changes. But we still have many problems, including ghost schools, out-of-school children, the lowest literacy rate of females, education in local languages, and curriculum gap between the rich and underprivileged children.”


Ameena Saiyid, founder and director of Adab Festival, said the curriculum that was developed in 2006 was a national curriculum, and the provinces were given the option to make changes to it accordingly.

“The present curriculum is not much different. And it’s not as huge a problem as being presented. We have two problems: pattern of examination and irrelevant textbooks. The examination boards and textbook boards should seriously work to fix these issues.”

Ameena said exams should be based on a curriculum inclusive of multiple textbooks on each topic. “Textbook boards should hire trained authors to produce quality books for students. The function of the textbook boards is not to publish books. The monopoly between publishers and textbook boards should be discouraged.”


Prof Dr Noman Ahmed of the NED University of Engineering & Technology said that the number of universities has increased in the past two decades. “But they don’t give students the freedom of asking questions, free-thinking, holding discussions on various topics about society.”

He said today’s students lack the freedom to ask or raise questions, even though we’re living in a democracy. “Freedom of speech and free-thinking are prerequisites for conducting researches in both social and pure sciences. Teachers and students want to work, but they don’t have such opportunities, and so they can’t produce quality researches.”


Ghani said that after the passage of the 18th amendment and especially after 2013, the federal government has been trying to control the education sector of the provinces.

“But the Sindh government has resisted and will continue to oppose all unnecessary interventions. Sindh has made positive progress in the field of education that other provinces can follow.”

He said the federal education minister can only play a role in the territory that comes under the jurisdiction of the central government and should freely work there.

“We don’t have enough resources to move the system of education online. But we’re trying to do our best and overcome the educational losses suffered during the pandemic.”


Talking about diversity in education, Pakistan Academy of Letters Chairman Prof Dr Yousuf Khushk said that access to education is a fundamental right, and providing free access to basic education is the responsibility of the state. “Our current education system produces only graduates. We have to prepare students according to the needs of the markets.”


Prof Dr Riaz Sheikh, dean of social sciences and education at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology, said the federal government wants to implement a unified curriculum, but there are many factors involved.

“For example, religious seminaries won’t allow lessons about minorities. If we think that Islamic Studies or Pakistan Studies is the name of a unified or single curriculum, then it’s no more than a clumsy joke.”

Originally published at The News