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“Education has always been subjected to political intervention.”

It seems to be a global phenomenon that the politics of a country impacts education. Irrespective of a country's level of development or prosperity, political intervention in the education sector can be observed as a continuous pattern across several countries in the world. It can be a good impact when the state has chosen to invest in education and improve it. But we also see interventions that harm and threaten education, its quality, access, availability, and consequences.

In Pakistan’s context, we see a negative role of the state that can be attributed as the reason for an inferior education system compared to many other countries. SNC (Single National Curriculum) shows the state’s obsession with deciding what to teach and what to not, as has been going on for decades. History has been taught with significant biases, and many aspects and events, like the 1971 partition with Bangladesh, have not been taught in line with the reality of those events. The censorship and limited freedom of academic speech demonstrate the entanglement of education with state interests. Zia ul Haq’s contribution of infusing education with morality and Pakistan Studies and promoting a conservative political ideology is one of the ways politics has influenced education.



Moreover, the state’s inability to provide primary and quality education to everyone in Pakistan despite it being stated in the Constitution as a right has left millions of Pakistanis illiterate, unemployed, depressed, with no good/sustainable means of earning, causing them to opt for illegal/harmful activities. The crime rates would have been much lower if the state had put enough effort into education. The social, economic, and political situation would have been much better. But instead, the way state institutions have been operating has led terrorist organizations to target schools/colleges/universities, students, and teachers. This can be seen in the Karachi university blast in which Chinese teachers were killed or TTP targetting education institutions and actors in different regions of Pakistan. And then there is also the targetting of Pakhtun or Baloch students by a state institution.


These few examples, out of several others, show the deep influence of political/state affairs on education in Pakistan.




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11 Comments


Coming to SNC now; i don't think it is the best way forward. You don't have to be particularly sharp to understand the kind of ideas it's perpetuating, there's a fine line between educating students about the culture and pushing for a one-size fits all kinda mentality, and unfortunately, SNC is doing the latter. It is in some ways a receipe for disaster. Dont you think it's almost ironic. that the state is busy creating a curriculum, while a good amjority of kids don't even have access to education. It's not like schools don't know how to teach, shouldn't the first priority be enabling these kids to go to school?


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I believe education institutues are a part of the country, so like politics manages to make it's way in other affairs, it will do so here as well. What the schools' administration must be cognisant of is when they allow this to happen. I believe political agendas shouldn't be discussed durring the formative years. However, once students are old enough to think and have a point of view of thier, healthy discussions should happen. Brushing things under the carpet is what we've been doing for the longest time, but that isn't the right approach, in my opinion. Students should be taught how to have civilized discussions, especially about history. This is critical for their own grooming.

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your comment poses three main arguments/questions, and I will address/answer them one by one. Firstly, you talked about how it might remove the educational disparity in Pakistan as a child from a rural area would study the same syllabus as someone in Islamabad. I believe the objective should not be only to remove the disparity between different classes but also to uplift the over all quality of education. The books that have been published under SNC till now cannot be compared to an advanced book being taught in a good school in Islamabad. By teaching these books to everyone, you are essentially taking away the quality of education from those who have access to it as of yet. these books…

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My comment regarding Single-National curriculam would more be of a critique to what author have mentioned. I completely agree with the state interference in educational system with negative aspects in context of pakistan. However, to talk about the single national curriculam, I have two arguments. The first is, having a single national curriculam would equate the class structure system in pakistan in educational context. for example, students from rural areas of sindh instead of getting the 50-year old education as same of their parents, will now get education which is received by a well-grown child in islamabd, would it not equate the educational rights of students in pakistan?. Secondly, it could be a possibility that state wants to "regulate" textbooks…

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It seems reasonable to think that regimented and hierarchical education is inherently political - not just because of the power structures involved in that process of regimentation, but also in terms of state motives in a teleological sense. To have citizens that are antagonistic towards a state's principles and foundations is antithetical to its goals, which are materialized through the same citizens. It's logical to conclude then that a state is excessively concerned with a pedagogy of history, religion etc. ( and even 'objective' subject matters can be means to these ends).

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the state feels the need to maintain its legitimacy and to do so it has to build up and retain certain narratives in the society. right now, the whole idea when it comes to ,for example, India and Pakistan, is of rivalry. and if one asks where is this idea stemming from, the answer would the state's need to hold power and benefit. and this can of course be seen in ideas propagated about other religions, races, cultures, and nations.

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