Recently, the Balochistan province has been in the limelight for schools without teachers, textbooks, boundary-walls, toilets. The list goes on. However, that is only a blink of an eye. Schools and students learning there do not have only the above mentioned issues. The list of issues related to schools, which later further worsen the already fragile education system, is a long one. Though many writers including students, politicians and non-governmental activists, from across Balochistan, have highlighted these issues through different platforms yet the situation is still disheartening.
Despite these challenges, some issues like the Textbooks and efficiency of Balochistan Textbook Board (BTBB) have gone unnoticed. The BTBB was established back in 1972 to develop course-books and syllabus for classes I to XII in almost 14500 schools which include primary, middle and high schools along with intermediate colleges. It has the duty to prepare and publish the textbooks in collaboration with Bureau of Curriculum (BoC) and National Curriculum Council (NCC). However, a meticulous look at that the books, prepared and published by BTBB, do not meet the challenges of the modern era and bear numerous flaws.
Besides, the textbooks, worldwide, have been the most crucial part of education policies. The textbooks play a pivotal role in school education and decide the future goals of a nation for after decades of their publication. In addition, the textbooks determine the level of education and the level of the teachers of a nation.
Like other provinces, Balochistan inhabits a heterogeneous culture which hardens the path for BTBB to come up with a healthy and result-oriented syllabus in terms imparting sound education to children. Moreover, in terms of efficacy, BTBB stands at crossroads. The BTBB has still, after 47 years of its establishment, not been able to translate the objectives of National Education policies in success. Some of the textbooks have not been revised since 1993. The textbooks include irrelevant and outdated data which does not suffice the need to prepare students for entry tests and competitive exams.
Keeping in view the facts, BTBB, despite taking efforts for redressing the loopholes, has not been able to provide the students of Balochistan with updated books. Resultantly, students encounter issues largely in all academic entry tests, competitive examinations and flunk in advanced studies.
In contrast, textbook boards across the country performing far better than BTBB except Sindh Textbook Board which equates BTBB in slackness for updating its decades old textbooks.
The Federal Board, on the other hand, updates its course and books as soon as it’s required. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Textbook Board has its review board which improves its textbooks after the feedback and suggestions received from readers. The Punjab Course and Textbook Board designs its books and course keeping in view its target audience—the most modern needs—and chooses one out of three best manuscripts written through open competition.
Furthermore, there is an absolutely different situation at lower classes of private schools where books of various publishers are used. The course books are selected by the school-owners who, in fact, possess limited knowledge of syllabus selection. The books like Social Studies, Urdu Compulsory and English Text taught at these privately owned schools do not reflect Balochistan and its culture.
Conclusively, the BTBB ought to be more efficient and professional in order to lay down a suitable strategy to bring the syllabus in line with modern education needs. The books should contain chapters regarding social vices and challenges, local literature and history and regional importance of Balochistan. The old syllabus should be revamped with new and innovative ideas.
Similarly, the BTBB is also coupled with the recruitment of subject specialists and trainers who should be recruited through Balochistan Public Service Commission (BPSC). Such teachers and trainers can uplift the education sector in a short span of time. The government, with firm resolve, should be directly connected with BTBB so that concrete efforts are taken simultaneously. A reliable and consolidated syllabus is the need of the hour. If BTBB brings out its own consolidated syllabus and updates it, there will not be a need for any syllabus in Balochistan from Federal and other boards.
The writer is a Karachi University graduate and holds a Master’s degree in English Literature.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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