ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Education notified the national curriculum for classes fifth to eighth a few months ago and subsequently students started the new academic session with new books.

However, no curriculum has been notified for students from the minority communities.

In the absence of a notified curriculum, students belonging to seven religious communities – Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Kalash, Bahai, Buddhist and Parsi – have been pursuing education without their religious books.

Sources said a few months ago, the National Curriculum Council (NCC) had sent a summary to the Ministry of Education for notifying the new curriculum for minority students from classes one to eighth, but the summary is yet to be approved, putting a huge question mark on the efficiency of the country’s education managers.

Sources say summary had been sent to education ministry in May

Joint Secretary (JS) Education Waseem Ajmal confirmed to Dawn that the new curriculum for religious minorities had not been notified. He said that content of the curriculum was being examined as some experts say the subject of ethics should be continued in schools for minorities while others say more religious education should be imparted to minority students.

Mr Ajmal said that there was no deliberate delay or discrimination against minority students.

He said the issue would be resolved within a week and it will be settled in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of religious minorities and rules and regulations of the country.

Meanwhile, Secretary Education Aamir Ashraf Khawaja could not be reached for his comments.

Sources said NCC after getting comprehensive input from religious minorities had moved the summary to the ministry, but now, some officials are using delaying tactics in deciding the fate of this important summary.

People from various sects of all seven religious minorities, with consensus, agreed on the draft curriculum, prepared by NCC, which was sent to Ministry of Education in May but it has still not been approved.

Sources said that the draft curriculum was prepared for seven religious minorities and if the same was notified, the government will have to publish 35 books (one book each for seven religious minorities) for class one to five and 21 books for class six to eight based on enrolled numbers of students.

The sources said technically the curriculum for minorities from class one to five should have been notified last year when the ministry notified the new curriculum for Muslim students.

They said this year the ministry notified the new curriculum for class fifth to eight and based on that from this academic session, which started on Aug 1, new books were introduced in schools.

“Neither last year nor this year [so far] the curriculum for religious minorities has been notified,” said an official of the ministry, adding Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain should take notice of the issue.

“The delay warrants an official inquiry,” the official said and added that Ministry of Education a couple of years ago had promised a commission formed by the Supreme Court that a new curriculum would be prepared for minority students.

“The curriculum has been prepared, but a notification is not being issued so this is a matter of concern,” he said.

Though the ministry failed to make any headway in notifying curriculum for minorities during the last three months, it renamed the Single National Curriculum (SNC) a much-hyped initiative of the previous PTI government as the National Curriculum of Pakistan (NCP).

“The National Curriculum of Pakistan (NCP) is the new name of the curriculum reforms,” said Education Minster Rana Tanveer Hussain last month.

Addressing a workshop in Islamabad, the minister had said: “The word ‘single’ caused confusion and excluded the diversity education that is an asset to our country’s rich heritage. We are now ready for getting back on track.” The education minister had added that NCP will be a comprehensive exercise, covering all four aspects of a quality curriculum.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2022

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