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Evolution of Class-based Education

Kalim Bahadur

By Tariq Rahman
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2004, pp. xv 210, Rs. 325.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

Tariq Rahman has undertaken a very painstaking study of the evolu- tion of the class based educational system of madrassas, Urdu medium schools and the English medium schools in Pakistan. When Pakistan came into being the rulers had the immense task of nation-building for which they had hardly done any home work. Pakistan was as ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse as any Third World country. Pakistan’s rulers had planned to use Islam for national integration and to oppose identity-formation on the basis of ethnicity. However, ethnic leaders like those of East Bengal, Sindh, Balochistan and the NWFP have opposed Pakistani rulers because, in the name of national identity, their own identity is denied. Thus, while formulating educational policies the rulers decided to include Islamic studies in the curriculum. Urdu was made compulsory for all. Urdu, like Islam, was to be used to create a unified Pakistan. No effort was made to devise educational policies to prevent division along socio-economic class divide. Though claims were made to bring madrassas in line with the modern educational system little effort was made in this direction.   The survey conducted by the author shows that the educational scene in Pakistan is polarized according to socio-economic class. The Urdu, Sindhi and Pashto medium schools are meant for the working classes and the middle classes. The English medium schools are meant for the middle and upper classes. The objectives laid down by the government for the teaching of social studies is to inculcate love for Islam and Pakistan. The objectives for the teaching of history are to evaluate the Islamization effort by various governments in perspective of an Islamic ideological framework and to inculcate among the students the qualities of Khudi (self respect), self reliance, tolerance, research, sacrifice, Jihad, martyrdom and modesty. The English textbooks glorify Muslims conquests. The Urdu textbooks carry anti-India and anti-Hindu remarks. They refer to Hindu and Sikh atrocities against Muslims in 1947 at the time of Partition but not to those perpetrated by Muslims on Hindus and Sikhs. These textbooks create a worldview among the students of intolerance for the religious “other”, i.e. the Hindu, Ahmedi and, to a lesser degree, the Christian. It is ironical that school textbooks in several states in India carry anti-Muslim and anti-Christian remarks. Majority of the Pakistani students of the English medium schools and of the cadet colleges/public schools are relatively tolerant of Ahmedis, ...

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