Sunday, June 3, 2012

Status of Education in Pakistan — Part II

After analysing the ASER report, we now turn toward the inbuilt intoxication present in Pakistan's curriculum.

We are living in the 21st century, but still abhor pluralism.

Firstly, what is pluralism? Pluralism means that people from different faiths, ideologies, thoughts, and opinions should be allowed to coexist and respectfully debate their ideas. Everyone's opinion should be measured on logical grounds rather than tagging their heterodox opinion as infidelity or traitorous. When a society loses its pluralistic character, it becomes close and isolated. Conspiracy theories overwhelm the mind of the commoners and schizophrenia increases exponentially. Everyone creates his or her demigods, some consider Taliban as the saviour while other consider poets, generals, or cricketers to be the last saviours of Pakistan. Such an attitude allows the development of mythos which might provide evanescent happiness, but in the long run, this further isolates the society from the global brotherhood. 

Pluralism is being demeaned in a variety of  ways in Pakistan. One aspects of this the prevalent discriminate learning found in textbooks. For example, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy commented on an Urdu alphabet book as below:
"The education imparted to Pakistani children is flawed and encourages extremism, intolerance and ignorance"

He showed an Urdu alphabet which he picked from a shop in Rawalpindi: alif for Allah; bay for bandook (gun); tay for takrao (collision, shown by a plane crashing into the Twin Towers); jeem for jihad; kay for khanjar (dagger); and hay for hijab (scarf)."

Isn't this discriminatory? There are hundred of universal beautiful words for each Urdu alphabet. Most of the words included are either symbols of intolerance or have direct relationship with Islamic ideas. For example, a more universal word for the latter bay could be Bahi (brother), for tay, it could be Tasveer (picture), Jahan (world) might be a more appropriate word for jeem. The word khanjatr isn't just barbaric; it also belittles the rhythmic flows and ebbs of the Urdu Language.

The psychology developed at an early age always remains with the child for ever. The first word that the child recalls for bay in most cases will be bandook. The only step which remains in converting this child into a zealot is to connect these words with an extremist ideology. Secondly, including words from Islamic domain is a discriminatory attitude towards the different minorities in Pakistan. Urdu alphabet books shouldn't be the way to bring people toward an specific ideology. 

When a state controls ideological literature, nothing can stop it in turning into a monistic state with an attitude of nihilism towards all minorities. AIML (All India Muslim league) vehemently criticised the Wardha Scheme which congress implemented after winning the 1937 elections. There primary criticism was that Muslim children are being forced into adopting an Hindu educational scheme. This scheme also had subtle ideological overtones, e.g. praising M.K Gandhi's photo and singing Vanda Mataram. If AIML was correct then, how is state sponsored ideological literature correct today?

An in-depth report on Pakistani curriculum is compiled by the Dr. Nayyer and Ahmed Salim from the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad. It's a 148 pages report titled "The Subtle Subversion" . It's divided into 11 chapters and includes literally hundreds of inaccuracies, prejudice, and elements of state sponsored intoxication.  

Anti-Hinduism has unfortunately become a part of Pakistani pathological techniques. Hate literature is being infused into the pre-mature minds. The authors have collected many citations from textbook literature:

"Hindu has always been an enemy of Islam." 
"The religion of the Hindus did not teach them good things -- Hindus did not respect women..." 
"Hindus worship in temples which are very narrow and dark places, where they worship idols. Only one  person can enter the temple at a time. In our mosques, on the other hand, all Muslims can say their prayers together." 
"Muslim children of India wear shalwar kameez or shirt and pajama and Hindu children wear Dhoti also." 
"Hindu pundits were jealous of Al Beruni. Since they could not compete against Al Beruni in knowledge, they started calling him a magician." 
"The Hindus who have always been opportunists cooperated with the English." 
"Hindus declared the Congress rule as the Hindu rule, and started to unleash terror on Muslims."
and so on.

The author also commented that post-partition history books had no such comments whatsoever. Book written after partition didn't consider Maohenjodaro as a Hindu Civilization. They even praised M.K. Gandhi and tried to bridge the gap between the people of the subcontinent. 

Belittling pluralism in the SAARC region will have devastating consequences for Pakistan's society as well as economy. A child who is an output of such an educational system will always hate Hindus, and dialogue between then is a near impossibility. Secondly, it should recognized that India is a major economic power, with a GDP(PPP) of $4.46 trillion, GDP growth of 7.8%. It is a market of 1.3 billion consumers. Soon or later Pakistan has to move towards India for economic stability. Demeaning Hindus as monsters only make this path difficult to accomplish. 

It should also be remembered that major Hindu settlements reside in interior Sindh. They are also equal citizens of Pakistan. What will they feel when such literature is forced on them? Jinnah called himself the 'protector general' of the minorities. Does such a syllabus befit the framework of the founding father?

Discussion on 'The Subtle Subversion' will continue

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