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Is the education system polarizing us?

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

The education system should be a form of unification between young adults because it allows them to have similar experiences within an institute. But has it been successful in achieving its primary goal?

The education system should be a form of unification between young adults because it allows them to have similar experiences within an institute. But has it been successful in achieving its primary goal? beyond. Starting off, when we talk about polarization within a nation, we can view books that use the use vs them narrative, which usually puts one party in a more privileged position while the other at a disadvantageous position. To further explore this narrative, as a 10th grader, when I was studying for my CIEs I noticed small things, such as how my Islamic studies book has one-sided narratives that prefer the dominant sect- Sunnism. This means that young, impressionable minds are taught to believe there is a right and a wrong way of religious precedents, such as different narratives of religious events. Furthermore, hailing from a diverse school that housed all religions, even my friends who were not Muslims were compelled to give an Islamiat exam because that is what universities within Pakistan recognized. The way Hindus and their right over Pakistan were unveiled in these books was also problematic. The fact that predominantly Pakistan was expressed as a home for Muslims because it was founded based on religious and cultural freedom was also a way that students were fed the “us versus them” narrative. The way that these very religious books directly gave Hindus the title of “Kafirs” and how they labelled Muslims as “pious and righteous” was also something that caused increased the divide.

To broaden this analysis, I also intend to delve into how polarization occurs with entities outside the nation. There is one dominant way that I have experienced this narrative growing up; in the context of India. Closer to home, to strengthen the nationalistic element in young adults, the animosity between India and Pakistan is unveiled from a very young age. This is done to the extent that there is an exaggeration of accounts in history books which children are later exposed to. This inculcates in them a lot of hate and rage for our neighbours without really understanding the cause of conflict. It is important to note that when they do try to explore this narrative, the preconceived notions already cloud their judgments. This leads to the furthering of animosity.

Conclusively, while education is a tool that is supposed to provide children with a platform to explore multiple narratives and to question existing conceptions and philosophies, impressionable minds are consuming such curriculums without doing so. This, in my opinion, leads to polarization. It divides them into an "us vs them" ideology which is very difficult to unlearn and even more dangerous if not unlearned. The polarization further harms individuals who might belong to the minority segments of society. In the case of Pakistan, the number of Shia Hazara Killings (over 40 recorded in 2019) recently, as well as the forced Hindu conversions that are very high in number in provinces in Sindh, are a repercussion of this divide. While several factors influence this phenomenon, I believe education plays an important role in manifesting this. Food for thought I want to leave you with is- If education is causing this kind of divide, is it really serving the purpose it intended to?

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Great post. Education over the years had played a central role in promoting differences, especially on the lines of religion. For example, most of the compulsory Urdu language textbooks for all students up to Grade 10 had 96 chapters and poems out of 362 had a strong Islamic orientation, without any mention of Pakistan’s religious minorities or their beliefs. An examination of the first grade textbook used for the integrated curriculum, titled Meri Kitab revealed that seven of the 16 total chapters contained Islamic sermons. In addition to this, if the teacher has a pro-Islamic stance the situation worsens for the minority students.


Ethnic and socioeconomic division are evident here, and they mutually support one another. Due to the incapacity of national leaders to establish comprehensive and effective education policy, this has been the situation.

As envisioned by the authorities, the suppression of various ethnic, religious, and linguistic identities in order to foster a Pakistani nationalism ultimately exacerbated the problem. Today, ethnic and regional animosity is at its pinnacle, endangering our national cohesion and security.

Different impoverished groups whose legal and political rights have been curtailed as a result have been compelled to become violent and militant. This ethnic split is one sort of polarization that Pakistan's education system has developed. The second significant sort of segregation is along socioeconomic lines.


Great post! The commentary about polarization within a nation reminded me of the sectarian divide presentation regarding Swat from which i still remember the examples used, including how the new principal of an Army Public School made it mandatory for students to fill out details of their sectarian identity, which not only led to discrimination within the classroom but also outside it as Shias were discriminated against on the cricket field of school. This shows the paramount role of education in unifying people, as adverse effects in the classroom translate to tension outside it as well, and it doesnt help that you have state powers, religious powers, and local sentiments (probably being re-enforced in the households) adding onto this polarization.


Great post, I do agree that yes our curriculum and subjects somehow do favor one party over the other and polarization through education is a negative externality since it is not the reason we educate but happens. The way go about any externality is to have a cause and effect system and provide opportunities/ a way out for those being affected. We could start my making our education system more transparent and encourage debate.


I agree that our curriculum is designed in a way that it does not accommodate religious minorities when it certainly should. In O/A levels, Islamiyat is a compulsory subject and I had a non muslim friend who also appeared for the exam because she did not have a lot of choice and did not want this to affect her university admissions process. However, at university level for e.g. here at LUMS, there is SOME room such as how students are given an option of not taking Islamic studies if they are not Muslims but they have to go through a long process and this should not have been the case and this is not enough. There needs to be inclusivity…

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