Single National Curriculum Pakistan

The Single National Curriculum (SNC) was launched on August 16, 2021. The government aims to implement it across Pakistan. According to the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, the SNC aims to provide all children with a fair and equal opportunity to receive high- quality education.

The development of SNC is driven by several considerations such as the teachings of Quran and Sunnah, the vision ofQuaid and Iqbal, constitutional framework, national Policies, aspirations and national standards, etc.

So far, Single National Curriculum has been agreed upon for Grade 1 to Grade 5 and the government plans to implement it across the board till the 12th  Grade in subsequent phases

Phases of Single National Curriculum

Single National Curriculum is being developed in three phases:

  • Phase I: Development of SNC and textbooks  Pre-I-V            (Implemented)
  • Phase II: Development of SNC and textbooks VI-VIII           (March 2022)
  • Phase III: Development of SNC and textbooks IX-XII            (March 2023)

The PTI-ruled Punjab is the first province to adopt the SNC but is facing backlash for mismanagement, while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led government in Sindh has outrightly rejected it. Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) were not well prepared to implement it this year

The government’s slogan of reform is: an end to educational apartheid, a laudable goal indeed. With the implementation of SNC there have been some positive changes.

Single National Curriculum, takes outcomes-based approach as it has made it necessary to base the assessment on the given SLOs instead of asking students for random information from within the lesson. These SLOs are usually given at the beginning of each lesson

  • SNC necessitates the inclusion of latest instructional and assessment trends in the syllabus like SLOs, TIMSS (Trends in international mathematical and Science Studies)
  • Inclusion of life skills is another salient feature of Single National Curriculum
  • SNC has tried to shift focus from memorization (rote learning) to an education system that has its basis on activity-based learning with project and inquiry as essential ingredients of the syllabus

Despite the positives there are some serious concerns with SNC, which can have a long-term detrimental impact and further radicalize the young minds. Some educationists & members of the civil society have even called the new Single National Curriculum as “An Overdose of Religion”1.

  • The religious right and far-right, whose members are found across all parties, bureaucracies, governments, andthe public. Their representatives did a fantastic job by

first loading up the primary school SNC with religious contents across subjects and grades, and then letting madaris back out of adopting it themselves.2

  • It is being noted that the religious content in SNC has dramatically increased, If the disproportionate emphasis on Islamic studies at the primary level is any indicator, the emphasis on Islam is going to be the defining feature of the SNC. This has led people to ask whether the government’s one-nation one-curriculum policy is being used as a tool to further Imran Khan’s dream of transforming Pakistan into a ‘truly’ Islamic nation.3
  • The subject of Islamiyat was integrated with General Knowledge up to grade 2 and started as a separate subject from Grade 3 onwards. In the SNC Islamiyat starts from grade 1 as a separate subject up to grade 12. Religious content has also been added in compulsory subjects such as English and Urdu
  • Dr Yaqoob Bangash, a historian, who has also seen the school books, says religious content has dramatically increased in the new Curriculum.

“The question is, if you add religious content once to [compulsory subject] textbooks, it is very hard toretract it. No government, even 50 years into the future, will be able to reduce it,” he told 4

  • According to the Pakistan Education Ministry, the SNC is driven by some key considerations but the teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah tops them all.
  • Islamiyat is now a separate subject from grade 1 onwards.
    • Curriculum was revised by both the representatives of the Federating units as well as representatives of Ittehad Tanzimat-e- Madaris Pakistan.
    • According to “Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Act 2017” the SLOs have been added
    • In addition to Nazra Quran, a framework for reading of 200 Ahadith from I-XII has been added
    • In addition to Hifz of Surahs, framework of Hifz 40 Ahadith from I-VIII has been added
  • Special emphasis has been given to the topic of Khatam e Nabuwat in the SNC. The early years curriculum of Islamiyat and some portions of Urdu have dedicated chapters covering the Finality of Prophet hood. This was not the case in the previous curriculum.
  • There were a few books from various publishers that covered such issues, but the majority of early childhood textbooks did not.

Sane voices from the civil society have highlighted that with the increase in the religious content in SNC there is a fair chance that instead of mainstreaming madrassas, the mainstream teaching will be heavily influenced by the madrasas in the future, considering the fact that

Prime Minister, every now and then, talks about making Pakistan “an example for the Islamic world

Talking about the SNC in an article in one of the leading newspaper, Nadeem Farooq Paracha says “The overwhelming addition of new religious studies in it suggests that, to make the madressahs agree to accept the teaching of non-religious subjects, the government has decided to bring the madressahs to public and private schools. This is akin to the state’s recent attempt at mainstreaming radical outfits by encouraging them to take part in electoral politics. It is a ploy that most experts would agree is not working.”5

Normal schoolteachers being under-equipped religiously, SNC calls for summoning an army of madressah-educated holy men – hafiz’s and qaris – as paid teachers inside schools. How this will affect the general ambiance and the safety of students is an open question.”Says Pervaiz Hoodbhoy (A Leading Physicist).

Farhatullah Babar a former senator and spokesperson of the Pakistan People’s Party called the SNC as “The backdoor entry of seminary teachers into mainstream educational institutions may be the dream of some people but it will be a nightmare for the country. It is something that even Zia did not do. It is poison.”7

Bringing about such changes in the curriculum may as well be a step towards caving into the right-wing demand to make Pakistan a ‘truly’ Islamic republic. Not long ago, on April 17, 2021, in a series of tweets, Imran Khan stated that he would not give in to the pressures of the Western liberal countries and protect the sanctity of the Prophet (Tahaffuz-e-Namus-e-Risalat) at all costs. A year ago, in May 2020, the PTI Government in Punjab had unanimously passed a resolution on Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (Movement to Protect the End of Prophethood).8

Effect on Ahmadis

Now that the SNC has been implemented across Pakistan, it appears that this move is more ideological, well-thought-out, systematic, and intended to further indoctrinate young minds by instilling hatred of Ahmadis.

If the disproportionate emphasis on such topics (Khatam e Nabuwat) at the primary level is any indication, the emphasis in SNC for grade 6 and beyond will be even greater.

We have seen time and again that when discussing such topics, the teachers usually sway the discussion, brings in the subject of Ahmadiyyat and start maligning the community.

Promised Massaih (AS) along with his followers are put in the same category of false prophets (God forbid) and apostates and non-Ahmadi students are made to believe that Jihad against Ahmadis is justified.

The only reason for such false comparisons is to create a hostile and violent social environment against Ahmadistudents. This not only promotes violence and killing of Ahmadis but legalizes its use under the false pretext heavenlyreward.

Also, Since the Constitution of Pakistan has declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims, conventional Muslims are made to believe that Ahmadis are cheating Muslims by claiming to be Muslims, i.e., Ahmadis are cheats, impostors and do not abide by the Constitution of Pakistan.

Another concern raised by the Intelligencia is that the significant increase in religious content in early years will pave the way for teachers from Madrissah and the radical right to infiltrate mainstream education and enter schools and colleges.

It is well known that majority of the education of seminary students is grounded in sectarianism. Imagine the consequences of two or three seminary teachers trained and educated in sectarian education entering the present educational institutions.

Unfortunately, bringing about such changes in the curriculum will polarize the society, further indoctrinate young minds, increase radicalization & hate towards an already vulnerable and persecuted Ahmadi Community. analysis/ analysis/


5 Nadeem F. Paracha, “A Regressive National Curriculum”, Dawn, August 16, 2020

6 Pervez Hoodbhoy, “Education: PTI’s plan exposed”, Dawn, July 18, 2020.

7 Farhatullah Babar, “Why a Single National Curriculum is Dangerous”, The Friday Times, August 14, 2020.

8 analysis/