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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.

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Ali Raza Khan - 24020484
Ali Raza Khan - 24020484
2022年7月05日

This notion is related to Hall's view of how representation depicts meanings and applications in society. Children are partially taught how to act, dress, talk, etc., because of the repeated images that reinforce power dynamics between the sexes. The SNC embodies the "good girl, bad girl" contrast wonderfully. With such support, it is clear how the "decent" female is a covered Muslim girl who accepts the social order around her. If you depart from this viewpoint, you are seen as a bother and a deviant. You serve as the archetypal "bad" example.

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Exactly! Ali, your point of the good girl, bad girl contrast reminds me of Dutoya's idea of a new-woman. This ideology can be very well seen in our dramas as well, where there is a recent trend of showing female characters as educated with professional capabilities while also efficiently managing their households. The SNC, too, while encouraging girls to get educated is teaching them that a good girl/woman is one who can manage her household efficiently, since that is the main purpose of her being at the end of the day.

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Ali Raza Khan - 24020484
Ali Raza Khan - 24020484
2022年7月05日

Exactly! Absolutely! As far as I remember, in the same textbook, women leaders are referred to as "supporters of men."

The textbooks came under fire for depicting females doing housework. Most of the time, girls and women are portrayed as moms, daughters, wives, and instructors. They are excluded from play and exercise activities. Only guys are seen exercising and playing, while the few pictures of girls show them as simple spectators.

I wonder why do the textbooks not reflect this and instead prohibit girls and women from physical exercise and competitive sports while they are now succeeding in sports, representing their nation at the Olympics, and climbing K2?


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Even though I do believe a single curriculum implemented across all institutions (private and public) and at all levels, is important to bridge the wide gap between the quality of education in Pakistan, the problems you have highlighted above are extremely hazardous to be overlooked. It is these tiny details in children's books that often instill gender roles and inequality in children from a very young age. These subtle details are not only specific to the SNC but the evidence is scattered across a lot of reading material that our generation has grown up reading. Enid Blyton is one author who has been repeatedly criticized for concealed racism and sexism in her stories. Therefore, I completely agree with you that…

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Laiba, you have raised a very important point of how storybooks and novels for young children also implicitly inculcate these ideas of sexism and racism. Even using adjectives in books for young children promotes these ideas. For instance, the adjective of "gorgeous" are used for girls while boys are called "smart" and "clever." This, from a young age, teaches young girls that their gender roles are restricted to looking pretty while boys, from a young age, are taught to be clever or smart, encouraging them to use their intellect.


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Muryum, you highlight a critical facet that could potentially affect the propagation of conflict. The subtlety of the SNC is exactly why it is so very interesting not only does it hold back from inundating many religious minorities it also exists as a piece of literature that is primarily taught in Urdu, an interesting anecdote given that only 7 percent of Pakistan’s population speaks that language. It can also be clearly see that the SNC stands to build the governments ideological assertions rather the pedagogical goals. Moreover it stands to promote certain religious views neglecting the idea of diversity. The aims are rather ideological then for the betterment for education itself and that hinders at its relevance in the first…

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I completely agree with you. Thank you for bringing up the issue of language; it is an important one. I believe that the SNC should have more diversity when it comes to teaching languages. One of the issues with education in Pakistan is how, because children only speak English and Urdu in schools, they end up not learning their regional languages. Therefore, the inclusion of regional languages in the curriculum can be of great benefit.

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Thank you, Maryam, for bringing up such important points and I totally agree with you what you have said. Adding to the point of religious minorities, I think there is no room for religious minorities and it avoids acknowledging and normalizing religious differences. Even though each page of the SNC textbooks has a footnote notifying teachers not to force minority students to study Islamic content, and even though all five religious minorities are given an optional subject to study, still, it would be challenging to enforce it in classrooms where Muslim and non-Muslim students study together. Thus, along with not giving religious minorities their rights, it will also be violating Article 22 of the Constitution which protects the fundamental rights of minority communities and affirms that  "no…


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Thank you for your response, you have made some very valid points. While non-Muslim students might be able to get out of studying Islamic Studies, if subjects like English talk about Muslim leaders, how are the teachers not going to teach one group of students the lesson while teaching it to the other? Also the non-Muslim students are then going to miss out on important lessons if the teachers do manage to not teach them particular topics. Also, does this then mean that non-Muslim and Muslim students will have different exams? These are all questions that then need to be raised.

As for the source of the point I made, I took a History 100 course with Professor Ali Usman…

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