The Subtle Subversion

The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan

Pakistan’s public education system has an important role in determining how successful we shall be in achieving the goal of a progressive, moderate and democratic Pakistan. A key requirement is that children learn to understand and value this goal and cherish the values of truthfulness, honesty, responsibility, equality, justice, and peace that go with it.

Children’s identities and value systems are strongly shaped by the national curricula and textbooks in Social Studies, English, Urdu and Civics from Class I to Class XII. The responsibility for designing them lies with the Curriculum Wing of the Federal Ministry of Education and the provincial Text Book Boards. The Curriculum Wing is mandated to design all pre-university curricula and issue guidelines to textbook writers and school teachers. Provincial Textbook Boards commission writing of textbooks and get them printed after their contents are approved by the Curriculum Wing.

A close analysis by a group of independent scholars shows that for over two decades the curricula and the officially mandated textbooks in these subjects have contained material that is directly contrary to the goals and values of a progressive, moderate and democratic Pakistan.

The March 2002 revision of curricula undertaken by the Curriculum Wing of the Ministry of Education did not address the problems that existed in earlier curriculum documents. In some cases, these problems are now even worse.

Physicist who served Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad for 32 years before retiring in 2005.