National Curriculum of Pakistan for General Knowledge 2021 for Grade I to III is the result of an effort to review and revise the previous curriculum in line with modern trends and innovations in different fields. It is important to mention here that National Curriculum 2006 for General Knowledge was an integration of General Science, Social Studies and Islamiat. The subject of Islamiat was integrated in General Knowledge in Grades I and II and appeared as a separate subject from grade III onwards. Keeping in view recommendations from different stakeholders, the government has taken the historic decision to introduce Islamiat (for Muslim students) and Religious Education (for minorities) as separate subjects from Grade I onwards.
As a result of this decision National Curriculum of Pakistan for General Knowledge 2021 is now based on the themes and concepts from General Science and Social Studies. This Curriculum for General Knowledge aims to provide our students with real life quality learning experiences which is based on inquiry and hands-on activities. It is comprised of concepts from General Science and Social Studies and Ethics:
• Knowledge of science is drawn primarily from the domains of life sciences, physical sciences, and Earth and space sciences;
• Knowledge of social studies is drawn primarily from the social sciences strands of history, geography, government, citizenship, economics, culture; and ethical values which are essence of Islam and common in all religions.
Aims of General Knowledge Curriculum
This Curriculum is designed for the young students to develop basic knowledge, skills, values, interests, and attitudes that will lead them to productively learn and understand the aforesaid areas of knowledge more deeply in later grades. The main goal is to produce young critical thinkers, capable of understanding and evaluating information, developing knowledge, skills, values, positive attitudes, healthy habits, civic sense and making informed decisions.
This Curriculum has been developed with the following emphasis:
Broadening the learning space (out of the classroom learning)
Strengthening the interface with pre-primary and secondary school curricula
Developing understanding of ethical values
Integrating students' learning experiences with emphasis on patriotism and sustainable development
Promoting life-long learning and enhancing 21st century skills
Developing students' independent learning
Enhancing interest and appreciation in society and curiosity in science & technology
Putting emphasis on students' holistic development and providing them real life quality experience, based on inquiry and hands-on activities/experiences.
1.2 Curriculum Development
Students in the early grades have a natural curiosity about the world, thus it is appropriate for them to start learning the basics of science and other disciplines at a young age. Early school education (Grades I-III) has traditionally been content-intensive which has hindered the development of effective thinking skills of students. The National Curriculum of Pakistan is based on content progression at early levels to prepare the students for conceptual learning at higher grades, supports students to meet International standards and equip them with 21st century skills.
1.3 Guiding Principles for Curriculum Development
Consistent with the Nature of Learning: The Curriculum is designed to stimulate students’ curiosity and develop their interest in learning and to enable them to learn more about themselves and the world around them through activities. Young children are naturally inquisitive. They have a keen interest in the materials around them and move naturally into activities that involve manipulation of materials, exploration and discovery. Therefore, students in the early school years (Grades I-III) should nurture and extend this curiosity, so that they are able to question, explore and investigate with increasing levels of insight and skills.
Coherent: This Curriculum has been designed to ensure that the ideas taught within a grade level have a logical and natural connection with each other and with those of higher grades. Efforts have been made to introduce concepts, skills, and attitudes in a well-integrated manner with progressive articulation appropriate to each grade level. This progression is intended to prepare students to understand and use more complex concepts and skills as they advance through the learning process.
Comprehensive and Developmentally Appropriate: This Curriculum considers the psychological and social readiness of students. It builds from concrete experiences to abstract understanding. Therefore, it focuses on providing experience with concepts that students can explore and understand in depth to lay the foundation for future learning experience.
The Curriculum is designed to help students develop attributes, essential for 21st century in all areas of the physical, emotional, social, linguistic, aesthetic, and cognitive development. It also emphasizes on:
• active exploration of the environment;
• self-directed and hands-on learning activities;
• balance between individual and group activities;
• regular and supportive interaction with teachers and peers; and
• balance between active movement and quiet activities.
These experiences during the early years of school not only influence their later functioning in school but also have effects throughout the life.
Feasible: This Curriculum can be taught with easily available resources and materials. Teacher’s Guide Manual is strongly recommended, which will contain sample lessons on each topic for each grade level. The Teacher’s Guide Manual is a document that will grow as teachers add exemplary lessons aligned with the new Curriculum while keeping in view the inquiry approach. In addition, activity-based workbook and other print resources are also recommended.
Useful and Relevant: Efforts have been made to ensure that General Knowledge Curriculum adopts an integrated approach across disciplines that are socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to students. The Curriculum contents relate directly to students’ needs and interests. Such relevance of content areas to other endeavors will enable students to transfer skills gained from one area of instruction into other subjects and their lives outside the classroom. Therefore, this Curriculum provides skills in a context that enables students to experience the joy of learning.
Effective Assessment Practices: Students’ achievement of the standards and outcomes in this Curriculum are to be best assessed by using a variety of assessment tools and methods. Performance assessments are particularly appropriate to evaluate students’ mastery of thinking processes and problem-solving skills. Teachers in conjunction should use variety of classroom assessment approaches with the Criterion Reference Tests. Observation of students engaged in instructional activities is highly recommended to assess students’ skills as well as attitudes towards learning. However, nature of the questions posed by students will also provide an important evidence of their understanding which must be encouraged by the teachers.
Reflective of Successful Teaching Practices: This Curriculum provides broader guidelines for teachers whereby they will accept the responsibility for actively supporting student’s development and to provide opportunities for students to acquire important knowledge and skills. Teachers will use their knowledge of child development and learning to identify the range of activities, materials, and learning experiences that are appropriate for a group or individual student. The guidelines also describe various aspects of the teachers’ role in making decisions about classroom practices.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills: Higher-order thinking skills are developed in the process of teaching subject-matter knowledge within application contexts that call for students to relate what they are learning to their lives outside of school by thinking critically and creatively about it or by using it to solve problems or make decisions. Similarly, learning through role-plays, demonstrations, and investigative activities is vital to the early development of both the mind and the body. This Curriculum, therefore, emphasizes student exploration through inquiry, and thereby calls for a shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered approach.
Meaningful Learning and Engaging: Children learn best when they have real materials they can manipulate. Through direct sensory involvement with their environment, children learn about topics that are personally meaningful and interesting. Teaching children requires the use of real and relevant materials and experiences. Discovering what works best for all students requires knowledge about each student, various learning styles of the students and clear learning outcomes. Similarly, effective instructions engage students actively in enjoyable learning experiences. In the early grades, children are forming attitudes and habits for learning.
Students are more likely to learn and remember new skills and concepts when they use them in a meaningful context. Therefore, this Curriculum emphasizes the importance of teaching instructions that should maximize students’ potential and enables them in understanding of the intertwined nature of learning.
Primary focus of General Knowledge Curriculum is to develop students’ interest and creativity through everyday experiences and investigations that promote the acquisition of thinking skills as well as the development of healthy attitudes and moral values.
2.1 Inquiry-Based Curriculum
When students use inquiry to discover content, they not only learn a great variety of facts and concepts, but they also learn how these are related to each other, and how it is that we human beings come to understand our world and add to the great body of information we call knowledge.
Inquiry-based approaches to the early childhood education focus on “student constructed” learning as opposed to “teacher–transmitted” information. An Inquiry-based Curriculum promotes inquiry approaches in teaching, if the development and enhancement of students’ ability to think sequentially, critically, and creatively is an expected outcome. Therefore, this Curriculum reflects a paradigm shift from the characteristics of traditional approaches to Inquiry-based approach.
2.2 A Student-Centered Curriculum
Student is the center of learning. Learning experiences need to be relevant to students’ daily life. Students are more interested and easily engaged in the learning, which uses everyday materials, when they can make decisions about issues that relate to their immediate environment and to discover ‘how things work’. Therefore, this curriculum is designed to be a Student-centered curriculum as opposed to the traditional teacher-centered one, whereby teachers’ role is desired to be shifted from a traditional teacher to a facilitator.
2.3 An Outcome-Focused Curriculum
Outcomes-focused is a method of curriculum design and teaching that focuses on what students can actually do after they are taught. This curriculum is outcomes-focused and is intended to specify a set of well-defined outcomes in the form of Knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. These Curriculum outcomes have been presented hereunder, for both students and teachers to achieve. These outcomes provide a basis for study programs that will challenge all students and teachers equally and offer them opportunities to achieve these outcomes. However, these outcomes can be attained by following the teaching & learning process explained in this document.