A nation should require all of its students to study the same national curriculum until they enter college.
Studying the same national curriculum until students enter college is, in my opinion, absolutely meaningless. By the time students start going to college, they are already eighteen to nineteen years old. They already know what interests them long before that, usually by the time they are fifteen or so, and hence, studying one curriculum irrespective of their interests would mean sheer wastage of two to three years that they spend preparing for college.
Not only this, studying the same curriculum may prove detrimental to the student too. This is because if the nation follows one curriculum, it will have a fixed number of same subjects. Since universities cannot introduce a hundred courses, students will miss out a lot on their areas of interest, because in this situation, ideally there would be one book per subject. This is bad in two ways. Firstly, a student does not get to learn much in the subject that he wants to study. Secondly, he does not get to learn much in any subject that he studies, because everything would be taught in a concise form if they were to introduce a curriculum which had subjects suited for all. If it didn’t, then it would be pointless to study such a curriculum, for example, a student interested in pursuing Microbiology in his graduate course might find the entire curriculum worthless if there weren’t enough material on that. Chances are, that there might be one chapter about it in the curriculum of Biology.
This would result in dissatisfaction on the part of the student, which would ultimately end up in the student scoring less marks, and not even caring about it. In the long run, this proves harmful as the student grows a negative approach towards studies. By the time he passes out college, he might not be in a position to be recruited by any company, but by then it is too late to go back and start afresh.
In my opinion, college is a place where you nurture your interests. This means that you should already have discovered your interests long before you enter college. It would hence be more useful to have an overall perspective to the stream, or to have completed some prerequisite courses in school so that it is easier to cope with the advanced topics that are taught in college, instead of wasting time studying subjects that will never be useful to you in your life. Being a computer engineer, I wonder sometimes how the immense amount of mensuration and literature in Hindi that I studied will ever come into some usefulness in my daily work.
Another example of a national curriculum which might collide with interests in a culture which is inherently secular. In secular countries, there are minor differences in subjects, based mostly on focusing of regional history and literature. For example, in India, it is natural to find a higher focus on Dravidian History in the southern states, and Mughal History in the northern state Boards. Also, as a second language, students usually opt for their mother-tongue as a subject. Having a single national curriculum will result in conflict with interest of the individual state and result in dissonance between the nation and its states. Hence it is highly unfavorable in such cases to have one national curriculum.
To conclude, I would say that whereas the base of all students, which is made during the primitive years in middle school, might be same, and that having a common curriculum might help, extending it up to the point until a student enters college is really not the best option when we understand that it would result in a compromise of the student’s academic knowledge, and hence once the student realizes his areas of interest, the nation should allow for a flexible curriculum that allows him to choose his subjects and master his genre, so that he can succeed in his life.