If, as the UN 2021 Human Rights Day declared, we are “All Human, All Equal,” then how can the European Parliament and the international community help Pakistan revise and implement a Single National Curriculum that will achieve the goals of social cohesion, uphold minority rights and include refugee children in schools, within its educational system? What is lacking in the current proposed SNC, and how can it meet issues of inclusion, access and equity, not only for ethnic and religious minorities but also for girls and refugee children?
The Seminar, held on November 29-30, 2021, in Pakistan, discussed the current SNC plans for a single curriculum, and emphasized the unfilled need for revision of current textbook religious materials.
Discussants across the three panels didn’t oppose the idea of a Single National Curriculum, but instead spoke of concerns of the design and content of the proposed SNC 2021, and of what it omitted in textbooks, classroom instruction protocol, student assessment, and teacher training.
What is needed to improve the Single National Curriculum?
A comprehensive curriculum includes not only content, but also protocols of teaching methods, teacher training, and student assessment. Curriculum development In the SNC is treated and understood solely in terms of textbook development.
The SNC is also lacking in ways to confront teacher and student biases. Educational content should provide a platform (curriculum content, teacher training, and student assessment) to identify and eliminate religious, gender, ethnic, and racial biases that affect individuals and the educational system. The SNC has no provisions for these aspects that would enable constructive dialogue and the respectful exchange of ideas to explore the misconceptions of bias. Protocols of training and instruction are needed throughout the grade levels to model how to have a constructive dialogue about students’ and teachers’ personal views across religious and ethnic differences. Learning these elements of respect and inclusion, both as values and skills, is part of social and emotional intelligence and also depends on the cultural context of students’ and teachers’ backgrounds. As such it requires curricular planning, finding best practice protocols, and repetition through grade levels.