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The Single National Curriculum (SNC) - A Media Perspective on Curriculum and Conflict

The role of the Pakistani media in influencing opinions on government policy should not be understated. The Single National Curriculum is an example where state media can be used to twist the narrative around policymaking tools.


The Government Narrative


The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Government has hastily made the SNC Plan public. In the process, the PTI has used the media effectively to push a rosy image of the SNC. According to the government, the tagline for promoting the SNC is "One Nation, One Curriculum". Essentially, they have been able to push the narrative that the SNC is a unifying force that solves the problem of inequality in our education system.

Using Pakistan National Television (PTV) and their social media cell, the PTI has been successful in generating public buy-in regarding the decision to implement SNC. They've not been keen to release or discuss the full details of the SNC implementation plan; rather, they've focused on making broad populist claims such as how the SNC can remove inequalities and create a level playing field, and why that is noble step.


At best, this is a classic case of governments overselling their policies. At worst, this is a case of spreading misinformation by concealing key details about the SNC Plan.

The Nuanced Reality


In my opinion, the reality is that the SNC, on its own, cannot do much with regards to reducing inequality. This is because the differences in the quality of religious and mainstream schools, or public and private schools, is not a function of curriculum. Rather, as Farhatullah Babar states, "No matter what curriculum is adopted, the inequality between 22 million out of school children and those enrolled will not disappear." To reduce inequality in the truest sense, the government must focus on infrastructural development in order to create proper buildings and facilities for all students, on teacher training in order to ensure that higher-order thinking in encouraged in all kinds of schools, and on practical steps to put the millions of out of school children in school.


Conclusion


Using the media to push a narrative that the SNC is the golden ticket to solving inequality is disingenuous. Public buy-in into this narrative allows the government to slack off on meaningful policy measures that will actually solve the issue of inequality within our education system.


Thank you for reading!







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7 Comments


While I understand what you mean, I do still think SNC CAN to a certain control inequality, because there really is a lot of inherent disparity within the curriculum e.g problem-solving skills, adaptability, amount of basic concepts taught and I think even the extent to which higher-order thinking and critical thinking is promoted is part of the curriculum. It is a good first step towards giving equal opportunities. I know infrastructural disparity is a huge issue, but do you not think education could be the first step to creating long-term change, benefits and overall empowering a community to eventually work together for infrastructural development?

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Thank You Shahmir for sharing this post. It was an interesting take on SNC. You are right that PTI has manipulated the public narrative through media campaigns and has resorted to empathy and logic fallacies of Narrative Policy Frameworks that I studied in my Education Policy Analysis course. It is used by policy entrepreneurs to influence target populations to gain their support for the policy by either evoking their emotions through framing the details and information of desired policies in certain ways that benefit them in selling their policy. In the case of SNC, the tagline of One Nation and One Curriculum appears to be tackling the issues of inequalities and even divide on basis of provinces, languages etc. So…

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Thank you for writing this. Although, I must add that SNC may not like the curriculums we have seen before. It has set a minimum benchmark for all schools (private and public). All schools must get their books approved before they start teaching them. They could add also add supplementary material, as long as the minimum benchmark is achieved. Moreover, no province is under the compulsion to adopt this (due to the 18th amendment). There has also been an effort on making the curriculum more inclusive for religious minorities with the introduction of 'Religious Education', which was designed by representatives of these religious communities. There are certainly concerns over implementation issues, administrative hassles, quality of the content, and whether the…

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One of the objective of the SNC as described by the website of Ministry of Federal Education and Professional training of Pakistan's is : Social Cohesion and National Integration, along with the key consideration of National Policies, Aspirations and National Standards. Unfortunately, SNC is once again a policy by the ruling elite of this country that fails to take into account the socio, ethnic and linguistic diversity of Pakistan, and aims to create an integrated, subservient nation that fails to ask critical questions from the ruling elite of this country. It reminds me of the botched One Unit policy passed by Iskander Mirza.It is surprising that despite curriculum development, syllabus, and standards of education being a provincial subjec…

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Very well written! But I just wanted to highlight that the government’s slogan of reform is: an end to educational apartheid, a laudable goal indeed. But what has been approved and notified is a uniform curriculum, not a system of uniform education. The latter would also imply equal educational facilities for all — rich and poor, rural and urban, boys and girls. Only a uniform education would ensure an end to the educational apartheid. But the government has not put forward any plan for uniform education yet. And it is unclear if it ever will.

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