Case for a uniform curriculum

Evolve a single system of education

TAHIR Ali

Business Recorder (May 22 2010):

The curricula of almost all kinds of schools vary. Wide disparity is seen in the system of examination and school calendar being followed by each network of schools that educates and evaluates its students in its own peculiar way. The class system of education has sharply divided the nation. It’s virtually impossible to think and hope of national cohesion and development if this situation persists. The national divide will exacerbate if the class system in education is not abolished in times to come.

All these schools promote distinct cultures and inculcate different habits and manners in their students. Students pumped into society with their divergent outlooks are sources of disarray in the country and our country is increasingly becoming a split-society with each passing day.

In an interview with this writer, Dr Mohammad Farooq Khan, a well-known scholar and social analyst, said, “We are amongst the least literate nations in the world. We have 40% literacy rate but that too is questionable by world standard. Education has never been in our priority list. No uniform system of education could be developed as yet. The country as a result has been divided in water-tight compartments.” Indeed it is.

So what should be done to correct the situation?

Curriculum, according to an expert, is all learning, which is planned and guided by school, whether carried on in groups or individually and whether inside or outside the school. It is the path through which a nation tries to achieve its educational objectives. It is rightly regarded as the heart of educational process as it provides direction and rationality to the educational endeavours. Curriculum must be planned and implemented in a way that ensures the harmonious and comprehensive development of students and society. It must reflect and cater to the philosophical, psychological, social and economic realities and needs of the time and society. It should be updated and made relevant to the needs and demands of modern age; to cope with the world of work; it should be more student-oriented than being teacher-centred; it should be more research-oriented; and more practical than being theoretical as at present.

Every society, state and nation develop a particular type of curriculum for its educational system that is best suited to its needs and ideology of life. The curricula of an agrarian and industrial society invariably differ. So do those of the communist and capitalist ones as well as of secular and religious societies.

Pakistan, faced with problems created by regional, sectarian, extremist and linguistic tendencies, must introduce a curriculum that could strengthen national cohesion, promote moderation and modernisation and inculcate the spirit of tolerance in the future generation of Pakistan.

Learning from others

We should learn from the experiences of the other countries. Developed countries around the world have established uniform system of education. USA and Britain have done the same and reached to new heights.

In the Republic of Korea, there is a strongly prescribed national curriculum and all its details are determined by the Ministry of Education (MOE). In Japan too, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture prescribes guidelines for curriculum and authorises textbooks in elementary and secondary schools. Throughout the country, the school year begins in April and ends the following march.

Malaysia too has evolved a common curriculum and common system of education. All schools, whether private or public, have to abide by the contents and curriculum approved by the MOE. All of them operate on semester system and the school calendar begins simultaneously throughout Malaysia in the first week of December.

In Sri Lanka too, there is a common national curriculum at-least from class 1 to 11 and the school year lasts from January to December in the entire island.

Remove discrepancies

So, there is a dire need to remove the discrepancy between the curricula of the religious and mainstream educational system. There should be a mandatory uniform national curriculum from class one to twelve.

At the intermediate level, all the students in the country should take a federal examination on the pattern of developed countries. Preferably, this examination should be conducted by reputable private institutions to ensure fairness, transparency and reliability and to minimise the chances of malpractices in them.

Free education

Equal opportunities of quality education should be made available to all the sons of the soil. For this purpose, education should be made free and compulsory.

Combine the two streams

Religious seminaries should be included in the mainstream educational network. For this purpose, a spirit of give and take is required on part of both the government and management of Madaris. After having F.A/F.Sc. from institutions based on national curriculum, a student, if she/he so desires, may seek admission in the modern seminaries for religious education and after completion of five years of education there, he should be given a bachelor degree. He may register for Ph.D for specialisation in any religious branch afterwards. It is hoped that through this system we will produce competent religious scholars well versed with Islamic teachings and modern problems.

Specialised education

In place of the present B.A / B.Sc, a new scheme of four years of specialised education should be started after the intermediate for all other branches and subjects on the pattern of medical and engineering courses. This new mechanism will ultimately abolish the obsolete and useless BA / BSc levels to the great advantage of the nation. Science subjects should be taught in English from day one. Their syllabi should be exactly the same as being taught in the developed countries. The curriculum should be goal-specific – we should teach doctors, engineers and other specialists about their own fields rather than making them jack of all.

Language

English should be made medium of instruction from day one. Colleges should have PhD faculty. University professors should be limited to research endeavours.

University as research centres

Universities should be research centres only and must never be allowed to conduct graduate or post graduate examinations. Their syllabi should be exactly the same as being taught in the developed countries. Colleges should have PhD faculty. University professors should be limited to research endeavours.

Teachers

Teachers are the soul of the educational system. The success of educational endeavours is dependent upon their commitment and hard work. Therefore they need better remuneration. They should be given special packages. I think post-graduate primary teachers deserve better remuneration and should be given grade seventeen as against the present grades 7 to 12. They should be offered refresher courses.

Less religious contents

Too much religious contents should be removed from the curriculum. It should be goal-specific –we should teach doctors, engineers and other specialists about their own fields rather than making religious scholars of them.

Advertisements

About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: