Published Date: Oct 6, 2011
SPEAKERS STRESS FOR STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN CURRICULUM
Highlighting multiple lacunas and anomalies in the curriculum designed for students from grade one to ten, the speakers stressed for the need to purge the curriculum of discrimination against non-Muslims, glorification of war, gender stereotyping, biases against diversity of language and culture and blatant distortion of history. In an event “launching of a book ‘what are we teaching our children’ coupled with a conference to commemorate Teachers’ day held here on Wednesday by ActionAid Pakistan and its local partners, the participants raised concerns regarding the curriculum content being taught at all levels in different parts of the country. Among the speakers included Aamir Riaz (author of the book), Samina Imtiaz, Executive Director PEAD Foundation, Dr Afzal Babar, President Private Schools Networks, Ahmed Saleem, Senior advisor SDPI and Dr Tariq Mehmood, Deputy Education Advisor, National Curriculum Wing. Aamir Riaz said that it was unfortunate that curriculum in Pakistan was marred with a typical mindset that reflected unwanted inclusion and emission of facts and events. Some of the information added in the curriculum is inappropriate for children of quite younger age and likewise some information is withheld or distorted to preach a specific ideology. He was of the view that mostly curriculum books were designed to malign the non-Muslims and to provoke religious disharmony. Samina Imtiaz, Execute director PEAD Foundation alleged that the text books recommended for both public and private schools were devoid of content to assist students in critical thinking and appreciation of the events and happenings. Referring to Urdu books content, she said that it glorified war and violence in one way or other. Then, she added, there were chapters which stereotyped women by highlighting their role as home workers skilled in sewing, cooking and embroidery work. She lamented that Urdu curriculum in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa as compared to other provinces had more of Islamic content. Dr Afzal Babar said that private schools in Pakistan were following curriculum designed by multinational publishers. He said that it was the responsibility of government to oversee whether the curriculum was designed in context of Pakistan. He added that those publishers did take care of country specific context while publishing books for other countries like Sri Lanka and India but in case of Pakistan, they did not take into account particular local context simply because there was no check and balance system in Pakistan. He acknowledged that some private institutions were propagating myopic ideas resulting in students’ incapacity to develop critical outlook. Ahmed Saleem said that there was need to differentiate between facts and fancies. He blamed the government and curriculum development authorities of polluting the real events, history and culture of people with ideological fantasies that had already played havoc with our education system. There is no space for reasoning and questioning; civic responsibility, cultural diversity and soft skills like fine art and literature, he added. It is pity that mother languages were being discriminated and people are forced to forgo their basic right to have mother language as medium of instruction.