[Opinion] Education for a democratic society

Muhammad Ali 

A democratic society requires people with certain attitude, values and skills in order to play their active role in the society. In cultivating such attitude and skill in the citizens, the role of education is viewed very crucial.  In democratic countries, therefore, education is given highly importance. Pakistan, principally being a democratic country- but struggling one, needs a serious and conscious efforts to make its educational system capable that can nurture citizen with democratic values.  This paper attempts to reflect on some aspects of our educational system that needs to be transformed in order to educate the citizen for a democratic Pakistan.

 Democracy demands citizens who listen to diverse views, respect and appreciate different ideas, take responsibilities, have good analytical and decision-making skills and so on. Pakistan is a country with people of diversity in terms of language, ethnicity, faith, geography and many others.  Of course, to turn this diversity into strength, Pakistan needs a strong education system that can nurture citizens who respect and celebrate diverse views, take responsibility, in addition, to choose their representative wisely.

 However, it is evident that in majority of our schools, the beliefs and practices do not help the students in developing democratic attitude. Hence, different aspects of school practices such as policies, school leadership and management, teaching and curriculum need to be transformed.

 Policies are considered as a driving force for any organization.  Principally, our National Education Policy (2009) encourages democratic values; however, its implementation is missed in the schools. If we want to bring about changes in the school culture then the policy need to provide clear road map for the schools. The schools should be given high democratic standards and ensure that those values are practiced in the educational institutions. In this regard, an effective monitoring and evaluation system is inevitable.

School leadership and management play a vital role in developing and influencing the school culture. The leadership provides role model for the teachers and student. If the leadership does not respect others then the teacher and students will do the same. Ultimately, this culture influences the student’s perception and understanding about governance. Therefore, effective leadership development programs are needed for the school leadership that provides leadership models to the educational leaders and influence their practices.

Teaching and learning is the core practice in any school. This process has long lasting effect on the students’ lives. This process not only helps students to learn facts but it also facilitates them to construct meaning about their live and the world. In majority of our school, rote learning is the prominent learning method. Students are not involved in activities that enhance their skills such as thinking, personal and social skills. The teaching-learning practice is based on teacher-centered approach rather than student -centered. Different views are not valued and appreciated in the class. Therefore, students develop a narrow understanding of things and they do not appreciate diversified views and ideas in their lives. Consequently, such attitude becomes part of the society.

Hence, the teaching-learning practices of schools need to be changed. In the school such teaching methods to be encouraged that can provide space for the students to participate actively in different activities. It should be ensure that during the teaching -learning process students’ views and ideas are valued. In this regard, the teachers need to be educated and trained how to deal with the diverse class and to inculcate the democratic values, such as listening to each other and respecting other ideas. Particularly, the teaching approaches need to be transformed from the teacher -center to student- center. In this approach, teachers plan their lesson according to the need and interest of students and variety of teaching methods are used. This approach provides an opportunity to the student to work together and learn from each other. Students are given opportunity to reflect and analyze information/ situation and encouraged to take decision on rational ground. The students are taught how to take responsibility and given opportunity to play their role in solving issue in the society.

Curriculum is also viewed very important in promoting the democratic values in the students. The learning material, such as textbooks provide the students and teachers the opportunity to learn about different issues of the society.  A strong civic education requires being part of the curriculum, which helps the students to develop the sense of responsibility as citizen of the society. The teaching martial should appreciate the diverse culture in society. Our textbooks, such as social studies and Pakistan studies attempt to provide knowledge about the cultures of Pakistan however, it emphasize only on four cultures as of four provinces. In reality, there are not only four cultures in Pakistan; several sub-cultures are there within the provinces. there are other entities which cannot be included in the four provinces such as Azad  Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan . Therefore, there is a dire need to review our curriculum and teaching learning material to make it more encompassing and inclusive.

In short, Pakistan is currently facing challenges in promoting democratic values in the country. Education is the most important vehicle to prepare the people for the democracy. Therefore, our education system, particularly, our schools need to be transformed by focusing on the improvement of policy, leadership development, teaching practice and curriculum. Otherwise, democratic revolution will remain as a nightmare in the country.

The contributor can be reached at alhan2005@gmail.com 


About Pamir Times

Pamir Times is a multi-lingual news portal operational since October 2007.
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