This is not about the Film 02…

Apparently, the societies that made education universal and/or upgraded it to a, sort of, right, did not do it because they somehow suddenly became committed to the moral good inherent in universal education. It was always a political imperative and decisions about what to be taught, how, to whom and by whom were always deeply political decisions. It was clearly understood by the early advocates of mass education that preserving the ‘republic’ required a certain kind of order and stability that could not be ensured by means of direct surveillance of the individual citizens.

So commitment to universal education was a way of ensuring a stable order in a society which was becoming increasingly complex. Education was tied into concerns about security a lot more than in concerns about good economic health. Though the latter depended, in no small measure, on education. So education was about developing a secure, stable political and civil society, which meant producing a governable population. In this sense, the schools were assembly lines for the production of citizen workers. See my post on what early advocates’ justification for universal education in America here.

Here is another quote from Horace Mann that I have mentioned at so many places before as well, so please forgive me if you feel I am repeating it–It’s just so relevant:

The mobs, the riots, the burnings, the lynching, perpetrated by the men of the present day, are perpetrated, because of their vicious or defective education, when children. We see, and feel, the havoc and the ravage of their tiger-passions, now, when they are full grown; but it was years ago that they were whelped and suckled. And so, too, if we are derelict from our duty, in this matter, our children, in their turn, will suffer. If we permit the vulture’s eggs to be incubated and hatched, it will then be too late to take care of the lambs.

While the desire to educate everyone may appear to have a moral basis, it is a political and pragmatic issue. Nothing makes it more obvious than these riots. That is to say if you keep adding millions of children to out of the school populations, you get as many out of that population and into the so-called youth group. These are adolescents who have never been provided with any education as children. They also have no access to any entertainment/recreation, sports, theater, dance, music, and other activities in which they could spend their energies. For these adolescents, rioting work as vents, e-vents where they can take the plug off, and join this ‘orgy’ of violence, which serves the dual purpose of giving them pleasure as well as membership of a larger community, something that has been denied to them by the society at large.

Look back at Mann’s quote after reading the last passage before moving on.

In Pakistan, review now the ways in which the elite ensures a decent education for their own children. I am not blaming them here for trying to be good parents but just highlighting the advantage enjoyed by the few to make the deprivation of others more visible.

I imagine that many of the readers of my blog, if they are in Pakistan, will be either Fauji, Civil Service folks, their sons and daughters, Isloo boys and girls and their parents, and upper middle and middle class entrepreneurs, NGO and development sector professionals and so on.  Very few, almost none, from the rioters and their families will be reading this.

If you are a Fauji with school-age children, you are mostly likely sending your sons and daughters to the Army Public or Fauji Foundation schools because you find them very conveniently accessible, secure, and high quality institutions. You can also have a say in their management if needed.  You know that they are fairly well-resourced and well-managed schools. What are their sources of funding? That can be anybody’s guess.

If you are from the elite Civil Service, you’d probably be sending yours to the District and Divisional Public Schools–such as this one–or to other elite private schools if they are within convenient access. Then we also have our Aitchison College and Cadet Colleges and the International Grammar kinds for the Isloo kids etc. Finally the small middle [upper as well as middle and lower middle] has the BeaconhouseLGSRoots, and City types. Wholly unsurprising that these schools can be listed on a single wkipedia page on Pakistani schools–the list shows the handful of Pakistani schools which can sport a website of their own. If you are in Isloo and can afford, you are probably making use of your free choice to send your children to one out of the many expensive private schools in the city, where they learn to speak a language to which majority of Pakistanis do not have access. Now, all of this would have been quite alright, if there was a safety net and a mechanism through which all children, irrespective of their starting points, could have a decent education and opportunity for upward social mobility. But as we all know, this is not the case.

The poor had dysfunctional public schools since the beginning of public education in South Asia [See, Tim Allender 2007]. This continues to be the state of affairs even now, except that they can also go to what we call affordable private schools. Both are equally bad, though, as some claim, the latter are slightly better than former on the test results. They also have always had Madrassahs, which are quite well resources and well administered, and whose number has grown over time. Madrassahs take the burden of education off the poor parents in ways that are obviously much more effective than both APS or Public Schools.

So all you have is more of the same unless state and political elite take the problem of education seriously. But why should they take it seriously if they can protect their interests better under the status quo, with no imminent threat to their life and property. On the contrary, they are doing quite well congratulating themselves on half thought out changes in constitution such as 25 A, which they can conveniently forget about as there are always other ‘pressing issues’ for them to address.

But if the riots out there are any indication, they can’t get away with the status quo for too long.

About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts

One Response to “This is not about the Film 02…”

  1. In the current state of socio-economic and political scenario of the country, the idea of ‘decent education for all’ tends to remain impractical. In this post, it seems none of existing models of education fulfills the definition of what a ‘decent education’ might be in this country. And you seem to reject both Elite(imported version) as well as Public/APS (local version) modes of education. Doesn’t it mean, to define ‘decent education’, one needs to go beyond conventional wisdom of western notion of the term ‘Education’?

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