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Polarization within the education system: the key to polarization in society's mindsets?

Madrassas are religious education institutes that have grown to have quite a negative connotation for some and are highly esteemed by others. For the most part, for a country that was founded on the basis of religion, curricula that is focused on Islamic teachings is ideal and in accordance with religious teachings. madrassas eventually bridged the gap that is left void due to the poor education system of the country. So, coupled with belief in education needing to be centered around education and the lack of other options, madrassas have gained numerous supporters. On the flipside, there are those who argue that madrassas preach intolerance and thus contribute to the making of an intolerant society. Examples of the Lal Masjid come to mind when this side of the story is being considered. In the video, it is quite aptly noted that different schooling systems like private schools and madrassas use different syllabi and curricula as a consequence of which the graduates produced are different in nature and in their thinking. Wajahat Ali says, “What is extremely unfortunate is that people who study from these (all different types of schools) institutions develop a degree of distrust and disdain towards each other. They have different kinds of world views and they do not trust each other and they believe that people from other school systems are essentially doing something which is not beneficial for the country and the society.” This skepticism for the other is something everyone of us is guilty of which intensifies the growing polarization within the country that we see around us.



The question which then gets raised is, what can be done to bridge this growing divergence within society and how can the narrative built around madrassas be corrected? A major chunk of the solution could entail getting private and public institutions as well as madrassas to work together in efforts to come up with interactions with each other so that this growing alienation between the two extremes may subside. The government’s involvement in the education sector, provision of good public education, and close monitoring of the curriculum may also be fruitful outlets in bridging this gap.

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Eman Rashid
Eman Rashid
May 08, 2021

Thank you for sharing this! I was just having a conversation about this with a friend who has attended both madrassa and private school. It's clear that there are very few children who have studied in both these spheres of the education system. There is little to no communication between the two, and that breeds mistrust, misinformation and eventually violence. It's not just the far right, but also the far left, that has become extremely reactionary due to this lack of communication. We all have a tendency to view the other group in stereotypical ways without attempting to understand their world-view and without opening space for conversation and reconciliation.

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Thank you for highlighting this disparity, Mahnoor. While there have been governmental efforts in recent years to bridge the gap, it appears that a single national curriculum may not be a working solution. SNC has been introduced by the federal government this year but the administrative issues related to it have made it difficult yet again to ensure standardization. Moreover, the problem may not resolve with the introduction of a standardized curriculum - the government has to ensure that religious sensitivities of the above-mentioned group are taken care of (which are fed by the common place distrust that you have mentioned in your article). This leaves a small room for change. Madrassahas have produced numerous scholars in the past. If…

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Yes, Usama, teachers! Very well pointed out in my humble opinion. The institution of teachers has been so massively overlooked as I have observed. Newer madaris are coming to the surface where the teachers (Ulama) are the graduates of private universities, and a lot of them are from LUMS. I myself am surrounded by so many friends in LUMS (around 70-80) who have attended LUMS and Madaris together. Most of those madaris are run by Ulama who are graduates of LUMS and other private universities here and abroad. Naseeha Institute, Ihsan Institute, Zaynab Academy are just a few to name. Indeed, from my personal experience these students are creating a much better environment in their capacities to bridge the madrassah…

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The issue of lack of standardization of education has never been so blatantly obvious. In my opinion, this issue can only be dealt with by looking at the root issue - the gaps in the education system, and how it isn't accessible to everyone. Another blog mentioned alternative learning pathways, and I think those might be a great way to bridge this gap, which would allow for standardization and reduce the need for madrassas. The thing is, I think if all of these alternative methods come from ONE source or are based on the same curricula, this disparity would cease to exist. It is seen that often alternative learning methods also have different curricula, e.g public school curriculum differs from…

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22110330
22110330
May 08, 2021
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Interesting take on the issue! I believe with the introduction of the single national curriculum, the government is trying to aim exactly what you have described above. Different curriculums have led to the existence of different mindsets within our society. Ensuring that religious seminaries include other content into their curriculum is definitely a step in the right direction. We are yet to see how things would unfold. However, I do believe that the role of the teacher would also be crucial in madrassas. The way they present the new content to the students can play an important role in shaping their perceptions about the other group. Just an opinion. Would love to hear what others think!

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