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Minister Shafqat Mahmood Rejects Publishers’ Reservations Over Single National Curriculum

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Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood has rejected the reservations expressed by the publishing houses concerning financial damages in case the newly-proposed Single National Curriculum is adopted, drawing an analogy between the potential losses to the publishers and the aviation industry that is near bankruptcy.

In a meeting with a delegation of the Textbook Publishers Association (TPA), the minister downplayed the concerns, calling them ‘collateral damage’. He said that many airlines have suffered losses, so the publishing industry will also have to endure losses, which could run into billions.

It may be noted here that the publishing industry employs approximately 2 million people.

The publishers had approached the minister to convey their reservations regarding the introduction of the new syllabus in the country. They complained that the government didn’t take them on board during its formulation.

During the meeting, a statement made by Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas also came up. On July 22, Dr Raas had said that one curriculum is being misinterpreted as one text, which was not the case.

When the publishers asked for a reaffirmation of the statement, Shafqat Mehmood shunned the provincial minister’s statement and explained that he is unaware of the efforts to introduce government-mandated textbooks. Sources claimed the government wanted to impose its syllabus on private schools as well.

Despite several attempts, Naya Daur couldn’t reach the federal minister for his comment on the issue.

Moreover, there is a lack of clarity over the meaning of ‘one text’. While one curriculum offers an all-encompassing framework within which books can be published, ‘one text’ appears to be completely different.

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In another development, sources close to the development told Naya Daur that the government was planning to expand its scope of the ban on books. They claimed that at least 10,000 more books were to be reviewed soon by the government and any content which is deemed unfit as per the recent policy will be banned.

Sources in the publishing industry said that the books were referred to the Punjab government to attain a NOC, but the government had resorted to ‘naming and shaming them’. They expressed reservations over the ‘lack of decency and respect’ shown by members of the textbook board in relation to their efforts to publish, write, and print books.

It is to be noted that a Naya Daur panel discussion had highlighted that government legislation in the Punjab Tahafuzz-e-Bunyad –Islam Act is incredibly vague and gives it the authority to ban anything considered against Pakistan or Islam.

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