Can The SNC Lead to Conflict?
The Single National Curriculum, introduced by the ex-prime minister, Imran Khan, aims at creating uniformity in education across institutions in Pakistan. However, the curriculum does not provide a voice to religious minorities and also fails on the grounds of gender equality. A picture of the cover of one of SNC’s books is attached below. There is a subtle message of gender inequality that is portrayed on the cover of the book. The father and son can be seen sitting on the sofa while the mother and daughter are sitting on the floor. It is also to be noted that both the mother and daughter are wearing a hijab, despite the girl’s young age. Furthermore, the textbook is not one on Islamic Studies but on English. The use of the hijab in the picture is, therefore, implicitly schooling young girls on how to dress and act ‘modestly.’
The role of women as subservient wives and mothers is glorified in the curriculum by providing a list of daily activities of a woman, which revolve around working in the kitchen and keeping the house clean.
Religious minorities are also overlooked throughout the SNC. Even though, they are not forced to study Islamic Studies and have a different subject called Religious Studies which is designed to cater to them, other subjects like English contain mentions of Islamic events and Islamic leaders which religious minorities are forced to study. On the other hand, there is no mention of religious minorities in subjects other than Religious Studies.
Both the gender disparity and poor representation of minorities can lead to exclusive identity formation in schools which can result in conflict. Forcing certain perceptions of the roles of each gender can lead to discrimination against women and a rise in gender inequality. Similarly, teaching children of different religions different courses can lead to the formation of different and often polarised groups. While children are taught their respective religious texts, there are no efforts made to teach children religious tolerance which can lead to the marginalisation of certain religious groups and can be a driving factor in an increase in conflict.