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Education and Politics - A deeper look

Critical pedagogy is a concept that essentially seeks to link learning to social change in order to not only expand ones’ intellectual horizons, but to form democracy as the basis of teaching, and the construct around which schooling systems operate.

In context of the concept above, education in a reformative context is understood as being broadly applied, i.e; learning that stretches beyond curriculums and tests. This approach helps emphasize how important it is for students to not just be knowledgeable, but also participate as active citizens of the state. Perhaps then, the reformative context highlights the eminent role of politics within education, and how both – in an ideal education system- go hand in hand.

The question arises then – do politics and education operate in congruence, or is education itself politicized? Using Pakistan as a case study, we can identity how courses such as Pakistan Studies is a compulsory part of school curriculum, but the skewed, biased, and one- sided narrative of independence that we are taught is the only reality we grow up learning. This narrative is entrenched within us to the extent that partition to us becomes more synonymous with hatred for hindus, than the plight and lack of autonomy of muslims. To some extent then, education can be credited for bringing in the anti-Indian, or the “anti-other”, element in our understanding of Patriotism. In another example, local textbooks reinforce existing gender roles with the use of specific language discourses, that suppose women to be home makers and men to be bread winners – values which are ultimately political in nature.

Bringing in the works of Pierre Bourdieu, the impact of high culture in society can be realized. Among much of his work, he emphasizes the perks students of dominant class cultures reap. With dominant culture capital, such students are easily able to excel compared to those who lack said capital, primarily because the curriculum is built around the dominant culture. Not only is education then political, but paradoxical since the better the education, the better the jobs, causing greater inequality. How ironic it is to say then, that with students as passive recipients and participants of such a system, educations role in being political is most emphasized when education reproduces patterns of inequality.

Therefore, not only do politics and education sway in harmony, but politics can be accredited for providing firm footing to existing educational structures.

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