In practice, then, this means that only Muslim students should read textbooks with content from their religion. But a current curricular and teaching problem, as stated by Seminar participants in November 2021, is that many school texts for all students include Muslim prayers and instruction on the life of the Prophet Mohammad. According to participants, officials at the Ministry of Education and Training have refused to correct this problem, as well as the issue of designing student assessments without religious content.
The Single National Curriculum, as explained by the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, at the August 2021 launch ceremony, would provide minorities with opportunities to learn about their respective religions. It would also assist all students to understand religion better to remove the possibility of misuse of religion by “…those who misinterpret the religion for their vested interests.” The Seminar discussions reflected on the lack of ways to implement this goal.
However, the November 2021 CELL Symposium in Pakistan discussed some glaring deficits of the Single National Curriculum and existing curricular and instruction practices.
Many current textbooks, intended for students of all faiths, include Muslim prayers and instruction on the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
According to participants of the Pakistan roundtable discussions, officials at the Ministry of Education and Training have refused to correct this problem.
Students of all faiths must also take tests including majority-Muslim religious content. They may be permitted to “opt out” of answering specific questions, but this might draw unfavorable attention from the test examiners.
Speaking at the Islamabad panel, “Inclusion and Global Citizenship,” about the Single National Curriculum and its potential impact, Baela Jamila said, “…the new SNC, in its present design, does not give us anything for education to become an instrument of social cohesion, of justice, of peace.”
Many other questions remain about new textbooks, teacher training, and student assessment of alternative practices for religious and historic content instruction.