Is the education system polarizing us?

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 that there is a right and a wrong way of religious precedents, such as different narratives of how religious events occurred. 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 that 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 found on the basis of 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 it 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 goes on to harm 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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