Education and Social Cohesion in Pakistan (PBEA)
This is a summary of a country report on education and social cohesion in Pakistan and is a research output from the Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding. Research for the report was conducted by the University of Sussex in collaboration with the Aga Khan University-Institute of Educational Development, Pakistan. The study examined three interrelated research areas (RA):
- RA 1 Policy: How is social cohesion integrated into the education sector at macro and micro policy levels?
- RA 2 Teachers: What is the role of teachers in the social cohesion process of the country?
- RA 3 Youth: How do formal and non-formal social cohesion education programmes address the agency of youth?
This summary was prepared after two-week long validation discussions with a range of stakeholders in Pakistan—national and provincial policy-makers, the development community and international donors, civil society organisations, teachers, teacher educators and youth.This summary report is based on fieldwork conducted in Pakistan between March and August 2015. The research sites included: urban and rural areas in Sindh province, including Karachi and Nawabshah and a small town in interior Sindh (name withheld for ethical reasons); Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province; and the capital city, Islamabad. Sindh province is the primary research site, with RA2 focusing on urban and interior Sindh and RA3 focusing on Karachi. This research mainly used a qualitative approach, drawing on a range of data sources including one-to-one discussions with diverse education and social cohesion stakeholders in Pakistan; a paper-based questionnaire for teachers and student-teachers; lesson observations in teacher education institutions; visual methods with youth; focus group discussions with youth, teachers and student- teachers; and analysis of existing statistical datasets and policy documents. This enabled the inclusion of multiple and comparative perspectives. In total, 266 student teachers and in-service teachers, 75 policy-makers, 40 facilitators/teachers/principals and 62 youth participated in the study. Interviews were conducted in Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto and English, contingent upon research participants' comfort. Recommendations include:
- Explicit engagement with issues of social cohesion, that is a focus on contextually relevant issues of injustice and inequalities and ways of dealing with them through policies and programmes, would better support teachers' and youths' agency for promoting social cohesion and might contribute to more transformatory outcomes. Mainstreaming issues of social cohesion, with an emphasis on recognition, representation and reconciliation, in the school curriculum and textbooks would help to ensure that the curriculum and textbooks are not biased and do not promote a singular identification of the self and the ‘other'.
- It is recommended that an assimilationist approach be balanced with respect, inclusion, and acceptance of social, religious, and cultural diversity. While some assimilation may be necessary for generating a sense of national unity, it is not sufficient as a strategy for social cohesion.
- The sensitivity surrounding the politics of the curriculum is acknowledged but a greater political will is needed to translate the NC 2006 into textbooks as in most cases the textbook is the only resource that teachers and students use.
- The choice of languages used in education and their relative statuses are crucially linked to social cohesion. This choice has to be made within the complex reality of the differing and necessary roles of the mother tongue, national language and a global lingua franca such as English, selecting appropriate language(s) of instruction at different levels of education.
- Recognitive justice would be promoted by the production of a gender-sensitive and gender-transformative school curriculum, textbooks and learning materials, alongside a similar gender focus within the teacher education curriculum.
- The representation of an adequately qualified female teaching workforce would strengthen representative justice and have a positive impact on the redistribution of education for female learners.
- National legislation on the prohibition of corporal punishment would give children legal protection from violence. Implementation of the Ministerial directives on the prohibition of corporal punishment in school can be improved by clarifying procedures for dealing with issues of misconduct and devolving responsibility for handling cases of misconduct at union or district level for faster accountability.
- Greater emphasis on non-violent strategies for classroom management in pre-service education would strengthen teachers' professional development. Good examples of CPD modules on this issue were identified in this study. These can be incorporated into teacher education curriculum for greater reach.