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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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Zersh Salman
Zersh Salman
Aug 22, 2021

This reminds me of an article published in Harvard Educational Review in 2009, which discussed how a team of Israeli and Palestinian teachers came together to work on a history textbook that included both groups' narratives of the same events side by side. This effort was made to change the deeply hateful and polarized attitudes of people on both sides. They were able to build nuanced understandings of historical events and break down stereotypes. The teachers were also able to play a more productive role in the violent political conflict through working on these dual-narratives.

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I totally agree. As Ayesha Jalal said about our history books that history of partition was "created" as an "inspiration" and as an "innovation" by those who where in power to strengthen the binaries of us vs. them. And, now that created history is the part of our education where we are conditioned in a certain way.

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Correct! Its a pity how tainted our perception of history is, and I wish someday objectivity is brought into the local discourse of history so students themselves can make an active decision on how they choose to feel about it, rather have patriotism and history be a package deal.

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You said so much in just three paragraphs. Thoroughly enjoyed your post! While I was reading the Pakistan Studies part, I remembered what Manto said...


"Hindustan had become free.

Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception.

But man was still slave in both these countries...

Slave of Prejudice...

Slave of Religious Fanaticism...

Slave of Barbarity and Inhumanity..."

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So glad you enjoyed!


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I would to comment on the statement: "This approach helps emphasize how important it is for students to not just be knowledgeable, but also participate as active citizens of the state". I agree with this point, but the thing is that most of the students who are knowledgeable prefer not to stay in Pakistan because they know that their voices will not be given importance. So, the decision makers should take a stance first and then we can see a change. The statement Pakistan studies book is so trueee. I used to think back in school that wow, our country did this and did that. But the real Pakistan studies was the one I studied in freshman year of university and then…


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and it is very difficult to offer some form of protections for freedom of choice, speech, and correct imposition of minority rights in Pakistan. Even if we start implementing on this it would take decades to improve the conditions here, and there are uncertainities too, and I don't think people (atleast me) would like to invest their so much time in improving the conditions here and still get hate in return. All the influental people we had in Pakistan are hated by the public. aren't they?

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