Language is a medium of communication used to convey feelings, express opinions, gain knowledge and maximise potential to promote inquiry. Strong literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are essential in developing responsible and self-motivated learners. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching for other disciplines as well; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.
English Language learning is an important skill when it comes to education at all levels, personality development, global communication, and making better professional choices. It is important to teach language learners to communicate their ideas effectively both orally and in writing. Reading, in particular, helps broaden students’ horizons, by exposing them to a wide range of cultural, emotional, intellectual, and social realities, which can act as a foundation for building a more tolerant and multicultural society.
According to the National Policy Education Policy Framework (MoFE&PT, 2018) a review and revision of curriculum framework across the country was done. This included revising common national teaching and learning standards along with identifying common standards applicable across provinces and school systems. It was also agreed that Pakistan will have a multi lingual policy, with the English to be taught as a second language. Keeping this in mind, the National Curriculum for English Language 2006 was reviewed in multiple phases, to national and international requirements. In 2019, a review was conducted for the Primary (I-V) grades in line with the national vision for the elaboration of a national curriculum for all streams of education in the country.
As a result of these rigorous rounds of review, two major areas were identified for improvement: pedagogical practices and assessment procedures. Teachers are required to focus on enhancing language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in an integrated manner, and be equipped with the requisite skills for utilising the textbooks and relevant resources to the fullest. The assessment procedures previously lacked a focus on the above-mentioned skills; therefore, the desired objectives laid out in the curriculum were further reviewed to bridge this gap. The curriculum emphasises innovative student-centered activities to be planned, to inculcate the above-mentioned values in the learners within the different social contexts of different parts of Pakistan.
Themes and sub-themes that promote values of peace and social cohesion are embedded in the English Curriculum. These cover ideological attributes and religious values of patience, tolerance, making friends, sharing, respect for self and others. It also highlights respect for Pakistani and international norms, equity among groups and nations, learning to live together in an extended society across the cultures and conflict resolution. ‘Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)’ and ‘Global Citizenship Education (GCE)’ are the two key concepts explicitly built into the curriculum to be eventually included in textbooks. The rationale is to empower learners of all ages to become proactive contributors to a fair, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and sustainable world. In compliance with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 4.7, certain values were highlighted in the curriculum under themes and sub-themes for different classes including global citizenship, sustainable development, gender equality, diversity of cultures, languages and religions, countering terrorism , risk reduction awareness about traffic education, health hazards of tobacco and other drugs, avoiding social evils (plagiarism, falsification, aggression, deception, greed, violent protests, etc.) and propagating sports and adventure. Moreover, the suggestions shared by Traffic Police Islamabad, Rahnuma-family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP), Ministry of Narcotics Control and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were incorporated in the curriculum for grade VI-VIII as well.
The revised English curriculum 2021 propagates a holistic approach for language development to equip the students with the skills they need for effective communication in social and academic contexts at the national and international levels. The curriculum is multidimensional and incorporates all components of language, i.e., phonology, grammar, vocabulary, discourse, language functions and skills. During the review the following amendments were made: