The sociological anatomy of education does not deal with the idea of ‘truth’ or ‘true knowledge’ as there is nothing like true, absolute and eternal knowledge which remains the same in all time periods and in all the societies. It deals with what is perceived as knowledge in a given social milieu.It, in fact, raises the basic question of what counts as knowledge. What is the knowledge that is considered to be worthwhile, enough to be imparted through, educational curriculum? As the knowledge that is imparted through school texts is not naturally sacrosanct, for it acquires importance because of prevailing power structures. It is pertinent to note that whatever counts as knowledge in a particular social milieu is an act of deliberation. ‘The process of treating one kind of knowledge as valid and worth acquiring at the expense of some other kind of knowledge is not a natural or rational one, neither is it determined by the intrinsic worth of that knowledge. The process of selection of one kind of knowledge and the elimination of another kind is consciously done in order to favor one section of the society at the expense of other. What counts as knowledge is a reconstruction, based on the selection made under given social circumstances. The process of selection does not happen in a vacuum, but takes place in a social context, for the benefit of one group. The knowledge and the education which constitute the curriculum in schools are constructed by a few educated elites. The two important processes through which a particular kind of knowledge is assigned importance are selection and representation. Out of the total body of knowledge, only a part is selected for dissemination. The selection of this portion of knowledge is contingent on social processes and social relations. It is largely guided by the power structure of society. ‘The knowledge that we finally get cannot be seen as irrespective of the social, political and economic facets of society. When we study knowledge in the context of these social, political and economic realms, only then can we understand the intricate relationship between power and knowledge. In addition, economic opportunities also play a determining role in defining knowledge and skills. The production of certain knowledge is not an inadvertent educational process. It is a part of the process of gaining wider control exercised on the masses. The Indian Civil Service in the twentieth century, for instance, was a product of a colonial project. Similarly, the emphasis on English and science served as a means for colonizing India. The British used education to colonize Indians under the pretext of civilizing them. This project of civilizing and controlling the masses continued even after Independence. Before Independence, ‘enlightened outsiders’ were controlling natives, while after Independence ‘educated elite’ were controlling their own masses. The system of education is known to operate under the influence of the economy, politics, and culture and then determines which knowledge is worth disseminating out of all. There are various economic, political, and cultural reasons because of which particular forms of knowledge are selected. Economic factors determine the utility of knowledge in the present day. Knowledge itself plays an important role in the economy of society. It stands between the family and the job market. It is education & knowledge that prepares and equips students to secure economic rewards. As the economic and Power rewards that come in life are largely dependent on these educational institutions, social meanings, cultural capital, and technical knowledge are differentially distributed by the educational institutions regardless of their ostensible democratic mission. The knowledge which is likely to provide well-paying jobs is always in high demand. Such technical knowledge is often highly inaccessible as well. It becomes difficult for common people to be in command of the specialized knowledge and skill set. The privileged and the inaccessible nature of these jobs is maintained deliberately by the dominant segments of society. This legitimates, authenticates, and naturalizes the power of a few over the large mass.

It is through this knowledge that they maintain their power in society. On this basis, it can be established that the nature and distribution of knowledge indicate the availability of opportunities in society. The knowledge, as well as the linguistic and cultural competencies of the elite in Pakistan, are associated with highly paid and inaccessible jobs. It is important to study what knowledge is being accorded high status in our society and its cultural and economic implications. Certain knowledge is inaccessible and, because of this, schooling becomes effective in generating and perpetuating inequality. Education seems to promise a bright future, widen horizons and ensure mobility.The common sense understanding of schools perceives them as democratic, make liberal institutions, committed making social progress. It would be fallacious to assume that the school curriculum imparts neutral knowledge. Education enhances the inequalities existing in an already unequal and stratified society. Education, as mentioned earlier is entrenched in the wider web of social and political relations that guide it. The sociology of education looks at the relationship of education with the economic, political and cultural power. In Pakistan, the schools should actually focus on the ‘ability’ of the student and teach technical curricular skills and impart information to all students unequivocally so that they all stand an equal chance to compete for economic rewards. They uphold that the wider aim of schooling is not the dissemination of the same kinds of skills to everyone. Educational processes lead to the perpetuation of the unequal social order existing in society.Schools, therefore, cannot be taken inisolation, having their own existence, working for the upliftment of people. Schools are situated in the larger context and are influenced by other powerful institutions in society. Apart from this, MDGs Goal 2 called for ensuring 100% enrolment at primary level, and providing missing facilities to all schools. A closer look on the Pakistan Educational Atlas 2010 reveals that the enrolment of children in various levels of schools — primary, elementary, high and higher secondary — remained very dismal and that the dropout trends at every level of schooling were alarming. This ratio is higher in girls than in boys. The situation further worsens in far-off and backward areas of the country. Article 25-A of the Constitution states: “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law”. Nevertheless, after the 18th Amendment, the Government of Punjab has taken a number of steps aimed at ameliorating the state of education in Pakistan and also to strengthen the existing setup in order to ensure maximum enrolment of children at primary level. The establishment of Danish Schools, Punjab Educational Foundation, Punjab Educational Endowment Fund and Technical Educational and Vocational Training Authority are some laudable steps in this direction. But, despite taking a number of steps to ensure maximum primary enrolment, challenges are still open and much more work urgent footings is required to be done. The key challenge is to provide missing facilities in public schools. According to reports of Ministry of Education more than 56000 schools are without basic facilities like boundary walls, drinking water, electricity, furniture and even buildings. The allocations of less resources, poor governance and instances of ghost schools have all exacerbated the problem and the issue of gender inequality has so far remained a paradox. This abysmal situation is present in the largest province of Pakistan which is ahead of other provinces in terms of Human Development Indicators (HDI), so one can imagine the plight of education in other province of Pakistan.

The youth is the builder of the nation, and their proper refinement is the prime duty of an educationist because it is not an individual’s matter rather these young pearls had to constitute a string of pearls thus strengthening the future of Pakistan. “Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial, and moral leadership among students and become their role model.”

(APJ.Abdul Kalam)

Associate member (Nypp)

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