The educational tug‐of‐war and Naya Pakistan

We can both bury our heads in the sand and let the exclusion prevail, or brave out to take productive educational measures to guard inclusion and social cohesion, the choice is ours

2018-08-22T17:54:00+05:00 Mahjabeen Amna

Is there anything worse for a state than to be split and disunited? Or anything better than cohesion and unity? Plato

Social cohesion is a mechanism that fosters inclusion of individuals or groups in order to maintain the equilibrium of society, regardless of the degree of its complexity and differentiation. Not only it works as ‘glue’, ‘cement’ or ‘the force’ that keeps people and/or organizations collected, but also preserves a state of peace, expediting social co-existence and development. Whereas, social exclusion or social marginalization, on the other hand, threatens community cohesion and it stimulates herd instinct, and produces ferocity towards those who are not viewed as affiliates of the herd.

The foundations of Naya Pakistan have been set already. It is a moment of great pride for all Pakistanis that the bricks that are being used to create Naya Pakistan , are made up of valuable clay. Yes, very valuable clay: Quaid-e-Azam’s beliefs and Madina Charter. Every Pakistani, no matter living inside Pakistan or abroad is waiting enthusiastically for the outcome of the construction of this beautiful home. At this point of construction, I would like to draw attention of worthy leaders towards scaling and spalling, social exclusion or social marginalization in education system, which can seriously damage the foundations of Naya Pakistan . We can both bury our heads in the sand and let the exclusion prevail, or brave out to take productive educational measures to guard inclusion and social cohesion, the choice is ours.

Inegalitarianism has severely damaged Pakistanis at individual, group and macro level. As a result, exclusion being the ‘enemy’ of social cohesion processes, is rapidly encroaching on our social equilibrium and stability. Conserving existing social norms implies continuation of existing inequality, which in the long run poses a problem to sustaining social cohesion.

Among many factors of social disintegration in Pakistan, the ‘prevailing education system’ is the main factor. Lately, when I visited Pakistan, I observed so many new schools and educational organizations have been established in very short time. At first my heart was pretty excited to see those buildings but suddenly my head felt agitated. I thought, “God who will put an end to this business that is spreading like a wildfire and damaging Pakistan’s equilibrium. Is there actually any check and balance in Pakistan?”

The real purpose of education is to lead.  French sociologist Durkheim’s view of education as ‘methodical socialization’ relates to the necessity for any society to protect the bases of its ‘conditions of existence’ and of its stability. It starts from birth, within  the  family,  of  course,  but  it  becomes  systematic  at  school,  with  the  result  that  school becomes the focus of social continuity when it comes to the transmission of values, standards and  knowledge.  Unfortunately, Pakistani education system, which is being led by different schools of thought, is leading the nation towards Inegalitarianism. Thus, from ‘formal educational’ point of view, mainly Pakistani citizens can be divided into four sorts: illiterates, product of madrassas, product of public schools and product of elite private schools. This plight is dividing Pakistan into so many social classes and dragging it into the well of disintegration. Education is a valuable tool but tragically it is being mismanaged for so many decades and no one is questioning this predicament.  By simply adding paragraphs in their speeches about the value of education or painting old or new buildings with fake slogans of education, our leaders can’t sort out the educational problems specifically and social exclusion in general in Pakistan.

Indeed, right now we have two options: (1) by changing nothing in existing education system we may attempt to secure continuity of current disintegrated society, or (2) by introducing uniform education system we may attempt to build new homogeneous society.

If we change nothing in the present education system of Pakistan, it means we are deliberately misusing this tool for social exclusion and disintegration.

The illiterates will remain illiterates; they will face problems not only at individual but also at societal level. At individual level the problems will be: limited ability for information management; unemployment: lower-quality jobs; lower income; limited access to lifelong learning and professional development; inter-generational spread of illiteracy and psychological issues like low self-esteem, which can lead to isolation. At societal level the problems will be: slow long-term GDP growth rate, the difficulty understanding societal issues and communication gap among citizens.

The students who are product of un-controlled and un-administered madrassas, they will create grave security complications. No doubt, this school of thought maligns the minority groups and develops societal intolerance and disintegration. A large number of the Pakistani population lives in small villages. The victims of poverty, illiteracy and feudalism have two options: either to keep their children away from education or to induct them in madrassas. Many madrassas offer free education and accommodation to the children and that is how our youth is being hijacked by religious extremists. The curriculum, which is taught in these institutions, is a dangerous tool that is dividing the nation. Furthermore, madrassas are stimulating sectarian violence (Sunni-Shia conflict) and religious extremism.

The pupils of public/government schools will develop antagonism against state. Whereas, due to access to better curriculum, soft skills, and hi-tech classrooms, the privileged students of elite schools will always enjoy better opportunities and perks in and outside Pakistan. The fact is: whenever, two groups of individuals of unequal philosophy, are in constant contact, certain sentiments develop which can harm national integration.

Consequently, our society will become hub of the haves and the have nots. Also, the citizens within Pakistan will be socially, psychologically, economically, culturally and religiously poles apart. Pakistan will be just like an unworkable cart with wheels of four different sizes. Tell me with this defect, will it be able to move forward? In fact never!     

Abraham Lincoln has put it so adroitly, "The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow." Here are some recommendations as to how to use education as a constructive tool to promote “mechanical and organic solidarity” in Pakistan.

The adult literacy rate can be improved by actually following the Constitution of Pakistan that says “free and compulsory education should be provided to all children between the ages of 5-16 years”.

Education to be made an unbiased institution. It must serve the interest of no specific social group but of society on the whole.

Mobile schools to be introduced in all those areas where due to poverty or cultural obstacles, Pakistanis are not able to access transports, books, uniforms, classrooms, teachers and uniform education.

Through offering uniform curriculum and national education system in Pakistan, education can be used for creating more or less homogenous people.

New curriculum should include such topics and skills that may enlighten all Pakistanis about their ‘hidden depths and potentialities’ and make them not only “educated beings”, but also complete “reasoning beings”.

Most importantly through uniform curriculum, selfish and anti-social drives and desires must be controlled by educating students about three ‘elements  of  morality’‘sense of discipline’, ‘attachment to groups’ and ‘autonomy of will’, so as to inspire in the pupils the sense of community life and social cohesion.

Such pedagogical models should be used in educational institutions that may teach students both the sense of ‘communion with others’ and ‘literary and scientific knowledge’.

Dealing with the ‘pedagogical means’ of education, the teacher plays crucial role as an individual and as member of group.  Any change in the education system must be adopted primarily by teachers in order  to  respond  to  new  social  needs  and  also  to  the  specific  needs  of  the  system. There is a special form of psychology that every teacher should be taught, namely ‘group psychology’. A  class  is  a  miniature  society  and  must  not  be  steered  as  though  it  were  just  a  conglomeration  of individuals  independent  from  each  other.

Right now what we need to understand is, Pakistan can fight scourge of disintegration   only if there is homogeneity among its members. This  homogeneity can be well encouraged through education by  instilling  in  the child’s  mind  the  essential  relationships  required  by  life  in  the  society. Thus, through uniform education, the ‘exclusion’ can be turned into ‘inclusion’. Top leadership must focus on Alama Iqbal’s concept:

“Any   society   which    fails   to    recognize   the fundamental    unity    of   human    brotherhood    is    bound    to disintegrate.   Iqbal  maintains  that  basic  responsibility   is  the reconstruction  of new  social  order through  a  meaningful  system of education.”

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