Pakistan’s Single National Curriculum Book Cover Causes Concerns

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Pakistan officially launched Single National Curriculum (SNC) in August 2021 despite several controversies. This is an initiative by the PTI government to apply one education system for all schools in the country in order to end educational disparity. Currently, it is launched for grades 1 to 5 only but people have been criticizing it since it was being planned.

The content of the new curriculum is the subject of debate for several reasons. However, recently what is dividing the public opinion is the portrayal of minor girls in the new curriculum books. The public is highlighting one picture of a little girl in hijab who is sitting with her family. Critics have raised objections on what message they want to convey by putting kids in hijab.

What is so Problematic about Single National Curriculum Book Cover?

Concerned citizens shared their insecurities and opinions regarding the national curriculum book covers. One common concern was about the potential impact on student’s brains after looking at minor girls in hijab. Usually, adult women use hijab so that stranger men cannot see their bodies or even use it as a garment to go with their outfits. However, 5 to 6 years old girls wearing hijab does not make sense as there is nothing worth hiding at that age or no point in making a fashion statement. Critics are questioning if the parents see their child as a sexual object and feel like covering it up.

It is to be noted that the hijab has largely become a symbol of marketing for Muslim communities and lately children are being targeted as well. Those who want to show Muslims distinct from others focus on women wearing hijab as if women’s bodies are the only way to show how the followers of a particular religion can be different from others. The same can be the case with the cover of the new National Curriculum which appears to be based in accordance with the perceived Islamic republic.

Is it an Attempt to Promote Diversity?

Not all the covers of the national curriculum books show minor girls in hijab, there are also others with different attires. It has made them form an opinion that with different kinds of covers, SNC might be trying to promote acceptance towards diverse classes of people with their distinct lifestyles and choices.

Then Why Not Show Versatile Clothing for Both Genders?

The debate did not end with the answer of diversity. There was a counter-argument if it was really about diversity then why boys and girls have appeared in a stereotypical manner. Only girls are shown as covered while most of the little boys are wearing western clothes which seems discriminatory towards the women. It looks like only girls are being Islamized while boys are given a free pass to wear whatever they want.

The diversity angle would have worked if the covers also showed boys in Shalwar Kameez and women in western clothes. Then it would have meant that Pakistani society has different kinds of people with different tastes in clothes. So, there are some valid points on which criticism of SNC could be based.

Will SNC be Implemented in all Schools?

There are still debates going on regarding the acceptance of this one nation, one curriculum system. Ever since PTI announced this initiative, the content and motive of SNC is under discussion on media and social media. Amidst all this discussion, a funny story came to the limelight in which a Punjab Curriculum & Textbook Board (PCTB) member suggested that Isaac Newton should be in dupatta.

Many elite schools that follow IB or CIE including Atchison are resisting the national curriculum. Sindh government has announced to oppose the SNC and claimed that it can create its own provincial curriculum.

If few schools have rejected the system, then its main purpose of implementing the same curriculum for all children has also been killed. It is because this partial acceptance will not fulfill the goal of one nation, one education system.

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