Nationalization marred education system, especially for minorities: study – Pakistan

LAHORE: Nationalization in Pakistan ended up weakening educational institutions, especially church institutions, and triggered a decline in the level of education in general.

Even after the 1972 nationalization policy was changed in 1984, resulting in partial denationalization until 2003-04, it continued to deplete resources and reduce the potential for equalization, as well as limited opportunities.

This was affirmed in a research study authored by historian Dr Tahir Kamran and Peter Jacob, entitled “Lessons from the nationalization of education in 1972”. The study was initiated by the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) and carried out by Rt Rev Irfan Jamil, the Bishop of Lahore, and Dr Bonnie Mendes.

The main findings of the study were that as of June, only 50 percent of schools had been denationalized out of 118 in Punjab and Sindh. Two of the five nationalized colleges were still under government control, with the exception of Edwardes College in Peshawar, which was taken over by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government in 2019. About 25% of Catholic Church schools had not yet been denationalized, while the Presbyterian Church has recovered the management and construction of 57pc of its schools.

In Sindh, 72.73 percent of schools and all colleges had been denationalized while in Punjab, out of 97 nationalized schools, only 43.59 percent had been returned to churches.

Priscilla Lall, a teacher at Kinnaird College for Women, confirmed the findings of the study of her own doctoral thesis, which focused on the same issue. She added that one of the long-term impacts of nationalization was fear within the Christian community as well as on educational institutions across the country.

Dr Kamran pointed out that in post-colonial societies education has always remained a tool for the government, but “we cannot deny that mission schools were the best model of educational institutions in Pakistan”. However, he added, this policy damaged the spirit that missionaries brought to the education system.

He stressed that it was impossible to separate freedom from education. Building national unity and integration was only possible by embracing the diverse religious and cultural meanings of people.

Dr Yaqoob Bangash, who wrote the foreword to the study, said it was a well-established fact that after two decades of nationalization of Bhutto, even the remaining Christian schools and colleges had not been able to offer the same quality of education as before, mainly because politics severed the global connection and removed the senior leaders who used the missionary approach and spirit in educational institutions.

Mr. Jacob announced that in order to put this issue on the table for productive engagement, his organization, the CSJ, aimed to share the research publication with provincial and federal departments of education and textbook boards.

Posted in Dawn, le 17 August 2020

Janice G. Ball