It’s time to improve state-run schools (on Single National Curriculum)-DAWN

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THIS is with reference to the editorial ‘PM remarks on education’ (Aug 27) which has rightly pointed out certain facts that have been overlooked by the prime minister while appreciating the Single National Curriculum (SNC) in Punjab, and criticising the English medium system, which is the domain of the rich and the elite of the country, and has nothing to do with the poor who remain neglected.

After partition, throughout Punjab there was a single curriculum up to class X and it continued till the 1970s.

In Sindh, high schools were run by the municipalities and there used to be common textbooks across the province. It had one of the best standards of education and instead of classes there were ‘standards’, starting from I to VI.

There used to be a semi-English teaching mechanism and the English poetry book that was meant for colleges in Punjab was being taught in Sindh in class X. It is incorrect to suggest that there was no SNC.

In fact, successive governments systematically destroyed the education system and government-run schools were neglected. As a result, private schools started mushrooming.

Till the 1970s, education was imparted, but gradually it was put on open sale by charging heavy tuition fees, raising the question of affordability.

The criticism of English medium schools is not justified because all over the world you are judged how best you express yourself in English, which is the global lingua franca, and the same is true for Pakistan.

It is so unfortunate that instead of revamping the syllabus that is devoid of proper history of Pakistan, our orientation is in the wrong direction. I saw on television a reporter asking someone on the street what was there to celebrate on Aug 14, and the reply was: “we enjoy the holiday”. Another person said Pakistan had carried out atomic explosions on that particular day!

When it comes to education, the major issue is not the English medium schools or the SNC, but how to ensure proper education through good teaching staff. Since education is now provincial subject, it cannot be forced upon the provinces and it cannot be named SNC; its name should be Single Provincial Curriculum (SPC).

If we really want to give proper education to our children, we have to create proper decorum for schools throughout the country with highly-qualified staff. Parents are compelled by the circumstances and have no choice except sending their children to private schools due to apathetic conditions at state-run schools.

Let us concentrate on government schools and bring them on a par with English medium private schools. The SNC is not the solution, especially when there is no consensus on it.