Polarization of Social Studies in Textbooks in Pakistan

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December 2010

Polarization of Social Studies in Textbooks in Pakistan

DECEMBER
2010

SAN Analysis

Polarization of Social Studies in Textbooks in Pakistan

0|Page http://www.san-pips.com/download.php?f=65.pdf

December 2010

Polarization of Social Studies in Textbooks in Pakistan

SAN Analysis

Polarization of Social Studies in Textbooks in Pakistan
Syed Manzar Abbas Zaidi
Education is universally viewed as the penultimate social panacea, bridging the information deficit gap between deferent segments of a nation state. Such ideas drive the pervasive machine of educational reform, since educating its citizens is seen as a cure-all for a nation's economic and moral woes. Politicians also use education as a rallying cry, with curriculum design geared to guide a country into realms of enlightenment. At the same time, education can also be used as a tool-kit to influence minds and mould attitudes, sometimes in the form of a return to traditional values, or as a pretext of 'saving the children from degenerate cultural influences'. In a polarized lens, education policies may encourage social change or may conversely take the syllabus 'back to the basics' to recapture the past glories of bygone eras, in order to conserve politically motivated status quos. These different rationales do not necessarily exist in isolation, since such nuanced agendas may co exist with more banal educational policies, driven by social, religious, and economic cross-purposes. Unfortunately, educational reform based on narrow interpretations of dogma or the perpetuation of unequal power relations can take many different unintended or intended trajectories, radicalization being just one. If the presumption is accepted that education can change a nation's ethos, then a distortion of educational policy should logically have the ability to disrupt the thought processes of the students, especially in a post colonial society. This is because post colonial societies and newly emergent states usually struggle between a need to preserve a heritage which has often been a motivating cause of their creation, and change from outside which is often seen as imposition of a colonizer's thought processes (Saigol, 2009). This urgently felt need of inculcating a sense of collective identity, to protect the fledgling nation state from forces which are perceived to threaten that identity, often creates an acute insecurity. This tension is usually acutely felt in educational discourse, curriculums, theories and institutional practices in such states. Social sciences are much more vulnerable to this pressure to create a particular discourse than the so called hard sciences, which need a tangible result to prove or discredit a hypothesis. Social sciences on the other hand can be based on a variety of interpretive discourses, since they tend to be more subjective. At the same time they are critical, since they are at the center of social conflicts and the expression of cultural confrontations by competing groups and classes in society (ibid). As such, the group whose knowledge becomes dominant has the ability to control the thought processes of the others through an ascendant ideological state apparatus of education. Since society is forever evolving, social knowledge is always open to flux, and can remain contested and open to change or manipulation. Thus, depending upon the hegemony of a

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December 2010

Polarization of Social Studies in Textbooks in Pakistan

particular group, the educational tool-kit can change accordingly, and does evolve over time to the different environmental forces 'tugging' it in particular directions. Evolution of Pakistan's Curricula Pakistan started out with a narrow technical base, and thus with the prevailing ideology of development being the goal, a large number of technical institutes, for example the Habib, Dawood and Government Polytechnic Institutes were...
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