When the nation ushered into the era of Naya Pakistan, a Single National Curriculum policy was announced with much enthusiasm. After three years of the PTI government, the curriculum debate still continues. Understandably, education remains one of the most serious subjects as it prepares the future generation to shoulder national responsibilities in a befitting manner. At the beginning of this year, the Senate approved a bill in which the teaching of the Arabic language was made a compulsory subject from primary to intermediate classes. PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi, while presenting the bill, proclaimed: “Arabic is the world’s fifth most widely spoken language and the official language of 25 countries.” He emphasised that learning Arabic could open up more job opportunities for Pakistanis in the Middle East and lead to lower unemployment and increased remittances. He also said the Holy Quran and daily prayers were read in Arabic and we would not go through the problems we were currently facing if we understood the Holy Quran. The good senator’s logic that since Arabic is the official language of as many as 25 countries, their populations consist of true Muslims with high moral and ethical values is highly sceptical. If that argument was to hold true, Muslims would have made their countries abode of peace and tranquillity as the Westerners have made for their people in terms of law and order – the safety of life and property. As it is, most Muslim countries are ruled by tyrants with the class disparity increasing by the day. Senator Raza Rabbani, a doyen of impeccable integrity, was the only opposing hand to the bill in the senate. However, the SNC theory propounds teaching Islamic subjects in schools and colleges on the premise that it will make our future generations better Muslims and, hence, better human beings. Religious parties support such a curriculum as it will ultimately turn out enough zealots to swell their ranks. Let’s not forget how a particular religious party has politicised the public sector educational institutions. Its IJT wing meddles with the administration of the institutions, interferes in the admission system and allotment of rooms in the hostels. Sprawled over thousands of acres of precious land, the University of Punjab is the classic example of the religious party’s influence in the institution’s affairs, including selection and transfers of the academic staff. Compelling the private schools to teach Arabic with grammar would lead to students being subjected to extra stressful conditions. The PTI government’s ambitious agenda to reform the education policy by admitting out-of-school children in schools and introducing a uniform curriculum is hard to meet for various reasons. According to a UNICEF report, about 23 million children are enrolled in schools and about the same number of them remain un-enrolled. To admit every un-enrolled child in school will require as many schools as exist now and employ as many teachers to teach them. Where will the funds come from to set up new schools and hire more teachers, especially when the country faces an acute shortage of funds? According to the Ministry of Finance’s summary released recently, the government had to spend about Rs 4.1 trillion to pay interest on the outstanding debt and meet the country’s defence needs. The colossal expense on both heads consumed 85 per cent of the tax collected by the FBR. Under such financial circumstances, planning to allocate funds to build new schools to admit 23 million un-enrolled children and employ teachers to teach them, seems much far-fetched. Moreover, the private schools have serious reservations about introducing the SNC. These schools charge high fees and employ qualified teachers to prepare students to take O’ Level and A’ Level exams. Compelling these schools to teach Arabic with grammar would result in the students being subjected to extra stressful conditions. Even the subjects being taught presently put students under high mental pressure, looking at the size of the book-packs they carry. Also, most of the children learn Arabic to read the Holy Quran at home as part of basic religious education. If the government experts think that the SNC lauded as “One Nation, One Curriculum” is the ultimate panacea to all our educational shortcomings, it must be made mandatory for the elite class of society to admit their children to local schools. Children of the upper strata of the society must go through the same system of education as children of the hoi polloi do. That’s the only way to realise the dream of the SNC to provide equal opportunities to the children of the rich and snooty as well as the lowly classes of the society. How far can the dream be achieved, only time will tell. The writer is a Lahore-based columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.