Editorial: March 2015
Reforming the Curriculum
Dr.Rasheed Hasan Khan
There is no doubt that the quality of education imparted by an institution is preponderantly dependent on the quality of the curriculum adopted by the institution. It is the general opinion of the clear headed and objective minded intelligentsia in Pakistan that over the last few decades ,the curricula taught in Pakistani schools has contributed a great deal to promoting bigotry and intolerance in society. It is their considered opinion that more than any material taught in many madressahs, it is the content of public school textbooks that has contributed to the acceptance or condoning of terrorism by a large section of the population. That is why today curriculum reform is vital in the struggle against intolerance, bigotry and extremism in Pakistan.For a comprehensive and effective anti-extremism effort, it is essential that the curricula taught throughout Pakistan are carefully examined to root out any references or biases that may promote hatred of or belittle the different sects, religions, ethnic groups, communities or nations.
After the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, the provincial governments are responsible for shaping the respective curricula. But more efforts are required at the national level to produce curricula that are based on objective scientific realities and provide access to genuine knowledge to young students. There is also an imperative need to include in the curriculum ethical and moral discourses on subjects such as tolerance, compassion and other humanistic values. The glorification of genocide and war, sham religiosity and the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities in a manner less than objective must be decisively be dealt with.Indeed, several generations have been brought up on the previously extant myopic curricula, and the damage done over decades cannot be undone in the very near future, but as the saying goes—the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
However, for a clean break from extremism and to help create a more tolerant and just society, curriculum reform efforts must be long-lasting and overseen by academics of repute. Imparting knowledge must be the focus of the effort, not imparting a particular political ideology. Most of all, the state must resist pressure from obscurantist quarters that are bound to resist any educational reform initiatives for their own interests.