Shehzad Roy proposes liberal arts, music courses for Islamabad schools

Shehzad Roy

ISLAMABAD (INP): Caretaker Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Madad Ali Sindhi lauded the founder and President of Zindagi Trust Shehzad Roy for his contribution towards education reform in the country, especially for his work on the integration of child protection into the provincial curriculum of Sindh.

His contribution in the field of education was highly commendable, he added.

The minister was talking to Shehzad Roy who along with National Curriculum Council (NCC) Director Mariam Chughtai called on him on Monday.

Madad Ali Sindhi said due to efforts of Shehzad Roy, the Sindh government approved the “Teacher Performance Evaluation” format developed by Zindagi Trust for the government teachers across the province, the National Assembly also recognized Shehzad’s efforts and passed a law criminalizing corporal punishment.

Shehzad Roy, who is also a renowned singer, briefed the minister about the contribution and aim of Zindagi Trust.

He discussed the initiatives taken by Zindagi Trust to make education accessible to all children in Pakistan and especially in Sindh.

In continuation of his efforts, he presented Madad Ali Sindhi with a proposal to develop and implement special elective courses focused on chess, liberal arts, and especially music in all public schools in Islamabad.

He said that Zindagi has developed a curriculum in collaboration with the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for the students of class 3 to class 8.

Shehzad said that the introduction of such a course aims to provide children with a platform to enhance their cognitive learning. He emphasised that chess along with other liberal arts, enables children to further develop and enhance their mental capabilities.

On the minister’s direction, the NCC along with Zindagi Trust will develop a curriculum focused on teaching chess and musical instruments to students from grade 3 to grade 8. It will be further developed for the students of grade 9 and 10 as well.

Madad said that such elective courses should be developed by NCC which can further be implemented by the Federal Directorate of Education. He said that extracurricular activities must be formally taught and encouraged at public schools.

The minister said that he has given special instruction to FDE to ensure that sports events, debates and other such events are regularly organised in all FDE schools and colleges.

Shehzad said that while recognizing the vital role of art education, Zindagi Trust (ZT) initiated its art programme in 2015, offering a diverse range of activities that act as conduits for creative expression.

To this end, the ZT curated a space conducive to artistic expression by making a designated art room in all its managed schools. Following this, ZT focused on building the capacity of government teachers designated to the art program.

Through stakeholder engagement, and focus groups with experts in the field, the ZT developed a comprehensive art curriculum to be used by all government schools across Pakistan as it continues to advocate for art to be recognized as a fundamental subject.

He continued that chess was introduced in Zindagi Trust-managed schools in 2011.

Shehzad Mirza, who trained in Russia and was a FEDA-certified master chess player, initiated the programme that currently runs for students from grade 3 to grade 8. By running a master training programme, additional teachers were trained to allow the scaling of the programme.

The ZT students have succeeded at local and national level championships and their alumni now support other schools in offering Chess.

The chess curriculum was developed after consultation of various sources in different languages and considers the cognitive stages of children. By teaching the game’s strategic nature, students learn to analyze complex situations, anticipate outcomes, and make calculated decisions, fostering their critical thinking abilities.

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The curriculum aims to teach students the value of planning ahead, making informed decisions, and assessing risks, skills that are transferable to real-life scenarios. Additionally, the subject is linked to mathematics, helping students understand patterns, and develop spatial reasoning and problem-solving abilities.

Madad Ali Sindhi said that this was a praiseworthy initiative and that he will officially launch this in December.

He said that the NCC should develop and present this elective course to him on an urgent basis so that it can be implemented by FDE this year.

The minister reiterated his commitment to reforming the public education sector. He said that it is his vision to lay the groundwork in such a manner that future political governments can build a better Pakistan for future generations.

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