The Enigma of Implementation | Political economics



TPakistani government of Tehreek-i-Insaf drew up its One National Program (SNC), spending some Rs 177 million and involving around 400 academics / experts over a two-year period. But is it really a unique program and implemented in his true spirit or was the effort unconstitutional and a half-baked political gimmick?

Since the adoption of the 1973 constitution, education has been on the concurrent list that is to say, jointly managed by the federal and provincial governments, although national policy and planning, including curriculum development, remained with the Ministry of Education (Section 70 (4), entry 37).

But, in 2010, the removal of the competing list under the 18th Amendment delegated key roles in educational policy, planning and curriculum development to the exclusive legislative competence of the provinces. It is no longer the prerogative of the federal government to draft a single national program until it makes another constitutional amendment.

After the constitutional amendment, the provincial assemblies passed laws to draft frameworks for developing their own study programs. The Ministry of Education in 2017 under the PML-N government also developed and implemented a curriculum from pre-I to VIII, but only for the Islamabad Capital Territory (TIC).

Now the current government has introduced a unique new national curriculum at the primary level starting from this academic session to give equal opportunities to all children in public and private schools as well as madrassahs to receive a high quality education. . In 2022, the SNC will be introduced for classes VI to VIII. In 2023, it will move from classes IX to XII.

The provinces have been pushed to implement it, but Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have their own laws. Legal experts say provinces cannot legally implement the new curriculum until provincial assemblies pass a law to pass it.

The provincial assemblies should have either passed new laws to implement the SNC or passed a resolution to pass it. Instead, it was enforced by a decree that goes against the constitutional spirit, explains an expert in public programs who has been involved in the development of several programs.

The Sindh government led by PPP has rejected the SNC. Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have not adopted it this academic year.

Federal guidelines in this regard are in the nature of advice and not orders or obligations, says Aslam Khaki, a Supreme Court attorney. He says that its implementation depends on the level of cooperation between the federation and the provinces.

He believes that there is no constitutional problem if the provincial assemblies pass laws to adopt the new program. But so far, the provincial assemblies have not passed any law in this regard. However, the CNS has been applied in Punjab and KP through an administrative / executive order.

Technically, the program is only intended for Islamabad, because the development of the program is now a provincial subject, explains lawyer Salman Akram Raja. “The Punjab and the KP governments have adopted it voluntarily. It cannot be applied. The government of Sindh has refused to implement it and it cannot be forced to do so ”.

Provincial governments have the right to write their own programs, he says, and future governments will continue to do so.

Private school organizations also say that the federal government has transgressed the constitutional domain of the provinces. They call it a futile exercise because the ministry, according to them, has reproduced an old school curriculum that does not live up to the standards of private education.

Kashif Mirza, the chairman of the Federation of Private Schools of Pakistan, said the new 2021-22 academic session which started in August was drawing to a close, but the new books are not available in the market across the board. national. The pre-kindergarten, nursery and preparation programs are not yet ready either, he adds.

In the days of Covid-19, when schools were closed and teachers lost their jobs, the government’s priority should have been to welcome them as well as bring all out-of-school children back to school, like the ‘requires Article 25A of the Constitution, he says. Instead, the government mixed things up again and ruined the school year.

Now the ministry is revising the SNC again, he says, which means the revised books will be reprinted and will not be available in the market when the new session begins.

“The large elite private schools, including Aitchison, have started the new school year without adopting the SNC. If the foster mother Prime Minister Imran Khan does not follow it, how can this be a single national program, ”he said.

Private schools have received notices to implement the program but the books are not available, he says. “If the implementation of the SNC remains discriminatory and coercive measures are taken, private schools will go to court for redress.”

Local publishers have also protested the issuance of CNOs for textbooks produced by UK publishers, which they say are not aligned with the SNC and were developed several years earlier.

Calling the practice discriminatory, they say, while local publishers were forced to reprint books in accordance with the SNC, books produced by foreign publishers were allowed to be taught in private schools.

Parents whose children attend private schools say the CNS has only added to the confusion and financial burden for them. “Parents are forced to buy SNC books along with previously taught textbooks,” says one of the parent representatives, Hamid Khan. “No relief for the parents as always. They have been left at the mercy of market forces.

Heads of public schools also complain about the delays, difficulties and uselessness of books.

The books were delivered very late to students who have already suffered a great academic loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic, explains the deputy director of the Islamabad Model School for Girls in Tarnol. The complex phrases and expressions used in almost all of the books are difficult for village students to understand, she says, hoping that future editions can be revised, making them easier and more enjoyable.

The headmaster of another primary school complains that a majority of teachers are unable to teach the new English, science and math books. If the government wanted to raise academic standards, it should have trained all teachers first, she adds.

“These books are far beyond the mental capacities of the students. Even some teachers are unable to understand the new books. How will the students understand them? Someone should go to the villages and see how the teachers taught it. You need Plato (s) to teach this new program to students ”.

Complex grammatical terminologies at this age are totally irrelevant and difficult, says the principal of a boys’ school in Bhara Kahu. “There is very little content related to village life in English textbooks for grades I to V. These books do not meet the needs and interests of students living in rural areas. “

The SNC is also criticized for its depiction of stereotypical gender roles and the inclusion of excessive Islamic content in books for compulsory subjects other than Islamic studies.

The Pakistan Human Rights Commission and other civil society organizations working for minority rights have filed a petition with the Supreme Court for redress against the teaching of Islam-related materials in English and in Urdu.

The petition says that both are compulsory subjects and that all students are required to learn the content, including students of faiths other than Islam, and that this is a violation of article 22 of the constitution. However, in its response, the ministry denied that the SNC violated section 22.

Most religious seminaries, however, supported the initiative despite the unavailability of books and the lack of training. Maulana Hanif Jalandhari of Wafaq-ul-Madaris says that currently books based on the new program are not available on the market. Once they are available, he says, they will be taught in the madrassahs. The madrassahs have already followed government manuals, he said, and have no objections to the SNC either.

At first, some madrassahs asked for extra time to hire science, math and English teachers, says Mariam Chughtai, who heads the National Curriculum Council. “But the SNC is aimed at all schools, public, private and madrassahs. Implementation work in all sectors has started ”.

She says the training manuals have been written and the teacher trainings will start soon. “We are progressing gradually on all fronts, strengthening the capacities of the public sector and the madrassahs because that is where the most work is needed.”

She says the NCC updated the SNC to incorporate suggestions from minorities and other stakeholders.

The CNS is a living document, she says. The government is very open to feedback, to constantly review and update it, which is standard practice in countries with good education systems.

She believes that even though education was devolved to the provinces, the federal government still has a coordinating role. “But it’s not enforced. Rather, stakeholders were asked to adopt the minimum standards. Officials from the seven federating units were involved in the formation of the SNC, but later politics caught up. Currently, Sindh is exercising its right and slowing it down.

The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist. She has reported on social issues for over 12 years. She tweets @ asmaghani11

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