Mr. Zulfiqar Ali is a teacher by profession and a subject specialist for History-cum-Civics based in District Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. His areas of interest are item development, curriculum review, assessment and learning activities. He has also worked in education sector reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. IFE is grateful to him for allowing us to share his concerns on Single National Curriculum and the corresponding textbooks. The sources of this article are his findings expressed on social media and excerpts from his letters to the relevant offices working on SNC (Single National Curriculum).
Some of the problems are being cited here:
Misaligned SLOs and suggested activities under Bloom’s Taxonomy
SS Grade V Curriculum is considered a Roadmap & a Bible of Education. The Social-studies I-V curriculum has been developed after due deliberations with 51 experts who participated in the process. However, if this document has been delivered without taking into consideration the suggestions for improvement, then there are serious problems in store for us in terms of its adaptation by the academics and schools who are bound to follow it without doubting its authenticity. It, therefore, makes it extremely important for the curriculum designers to revisit the document and make the necessary corrections.
Zulfiqar points out that the SLO (listed in first column) in the picture on the left has verbs such as define & describe. The 1st one falls under the Blooms level of remembering while the second one belongs to level of understanding. But the activities given against the SLOs are not related to their corresponding Blooms levels. For example, in this particular case, the SLO requires a low level of remembering or understanding, but the suggested activity rather belongs to creating the higher order thinking level of the Blooms Taxonomy. There are many other instances like this where activities are not aligned or rationalized with the demand of SLOs.
Zulfiqar Ali has sent out letters to the relevant offices pointing towards this basic flaw found, but so far, he has not received any response.
He further points out that the activities against certain SLOs are unrealistic. For example, in case of English for class V, it is impossible to deliver on SLOs when there is a dearth of qualified teachers with English proficiency and most students remain trapped in the vicious cycle of learning poverty. He wonders how will the students, who find themselves unable to read even a simple paragraph in English, will be able to write a short poem with rhyming words?
Errors in SNC-based Model Textbooks
When it comes to SNC based model textbooks– already disseminated to public schools in ICT & Federal Areas, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces–Zulfiqar points towards serious errors that can create more confusion and conceptual misunderstanding among students.
As an example, he has highlighted incomplete sentences in description boxes, as you can see in the picture below.
In the picture below are the typos left-out or overlooked by textbook proofreaders.
There are also serious syntax and grammar errors which he has pointed out in the General Knowledge textbook. This brings into question the qualification and caliber of content writers engaged for SNC.
In Math textbook too, he has pointed towards incomplete description of concepts, thus making it arduous for the students to completely understand what digraphs and trigraphs are.
In the picture below, he mentions about unnecessarily inducting religious references in compulsory subjects and thereby neglecting the principle of monotony. We at IFE also believe that monotonous portrayal of the dominant religion undermines the presence of religious minorities who too deserve their social and religious practices to be positively portrayed in textbooks. Exposure to the diverse faith-systems in Pakistan through curriculum and syllabus will help our children to understand and empathize with minorities as their peers in schools and neighborhoods.
He also laments science textbook writers for not checking the facts before inserting them. Here is one example where diameter of the Earth is inaccurately mentioned in General Science Textbook for class V.
(You may follow Zulfiqar Ali on twitter @zulfimyfriends or email at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Why should we talk more on the Single National Curriculum?
What Zulfiqar Ali has highlighted through his work and views is important and noteworthy to create an understanding of what is it in the system that has failed our children in their walk towards development of the academic aptitudes at par with children from other neighboring countries. Through his posts, he frequently calls out on the lack of interest, cronyism and corruption in the education sector that have serious consequences for our youth, children, and the generations to come. A careful mediation in education policy making processes is the need of the day. We need to find solutions for the three very pressing problems in education:
- Out of school children and high dropout ratio
- Students’ lack of skills or understanding of basic academic concepts
- Serious lack of resources and capacities of teachers
The government, if it is indeed serious about improving quality standards of education for children, needs to focus more on resource development and making education accessible for all. Presenting SNC as a “problem-fixer” of education apartheid and structural disparities is nothing short of a false political pretense when it is unable to address the issues that needed attention. The serious consequences of the faults with Single National Curriculum must be talked about more rigorously now than before because the government is binding all educational institutes (public and private) to it, and more authoritatively so in Punjab. A lack of rational approach in defining minimum standards for children coming from diversified backgrounds may be problematic in terms of their conforming to the new requirements—where some students will feel over-qualified for a specific standard whereas others will be completely left out in meeting that minimum expectation. For the sake of being more pragmatic in terms of standard-setting as per learning needs, SNC must be revisited and the modalities for its implementation be made more flexible, appealing and realistic. Curriculum development, as a matter of grave concern for education standards in Pakistan, should be run under the meticulous direction of competent academic experts, subject specialists, and social scientists.
Tag:#IbtidahForEducation, Education Standards, EducationBarriers, EducationDiversity, EducationForAll, EducationInPakistan, EducationPolicies, EducationPriorities, EducationSpending, Empathy, InterFaithHarmony, LearningPoverty, Pedagogies, Quality Education, RightToEducation, Single National Curriculum, SNC, StudentImprovement