The education system and librarianship in Pakistan: an overview.

Author:Bhatti, Rubina


The education system and librarianship development in any country is strongly culturally dependent. It cannot be adequately understood without consideration of the full context. Before discussing the detail of the research issues therefore it is appropriate to cast a cursory glance at Pakistan's education system and library development in its historical perspective.

The societal, political and governmental structures also impinge on the effectiveness of the education system. An education policy cannot be prepared in isolation of these realities. The current policy, therefore, identifies some of the overarching challenges and proposes policy options, within the context of the education system (NEP 2009) . Since school and academic (college and university) libraries serve the information needs of the academic community, to provide materials to enrich instruction and guidance in the classroom and to stimulate independent study and learning by the students, an overview of both the educational structure and the culture of education in Pakistan is essential. This will help in providing the background to the detailed analysis of the services of higher education libraries and the factors affecting them.

Objectives of the Study

The purpose of this study was to review the education practices and librarianship development in Pakistan in historical perspective, current and future scenario and to identify the problems and challenges in bringing up the desired progress and change in the country. It also aimed to furnish some practicable suggestions to create a literate and innovative generation in order to survive and thrive in new information era.

Research Methodology

The data for this study is based on various types of literature; books, journal articles, government publications, public documents, HEC digital library databases, abstracting services of journal papers (e.g. ERIC, BUBL), (b) doctoral theses, conference proceedings and material from the Internet were consulted.

The Historical Perspective

Education is a key element in progress and change. It occupies a pre-eminent position in every modern human society, but it rests in a cultural and historical context that strongly influences its implementation. For Pakistan this context is primarily that of Islam.

Pakistan owns a splendid history in respect of literary and library activities since its very inauguration. Its history [is] traced back to the oldest civilization of Taxila, Harappa and Indus valley, the Valley of Indus played the role of centre figure in constituting the History of Pakistan. The history of books and libraries among the people of this area can be traced back to [the] sixth century, A.D, where paper was being used in Gilgat and Kashmir and as a result the Libraries were established at Uch, Multan, Tatta and many other places of this region. (Marwat, 1996). The state of Pakistan was created from the Muslim-majority areas of the Indian sub-continent by the British government at the demands of the Muslims on the 14th August 1947. The foundation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India was based on a two-nation theory; this theory is based on the fact that there are two big indigenous nations in the sub-continent, having two different main religions (Islam and Hinduism) and cultures, social customs, moral codes and different historical backgrounds. The Muslim majority in certain areas of the Indian sub-continent saw a need for its own country where it would have the freedom of exercising Islamic principles on political, economic, social and educational matters. Muslims of India wanted both political independence and cultural separation from the Hindu majority regions of the subcontinent. It must be recognised that this twentieth century Islamic cultural strength of feeling was based on many centuries of Islamic influence in the area.

Pakistan has been struggling to develop an all-encompassing identity since the founding of the state in 1947. The nation was created by Western-oriented professionals and bureaucrats as a homeland for Muslims, a place where they would no longer be a minority community in the Hindu-majority state of India. Enthusiasm and a sense of profound moral renaissance for Muslims in South Asia accompanied independence. Expectations were high that Pakistan would flourish and that its citizens would be unified by their sense of social contract. It was hoped that Pakistanis would freely and vigorously engage in parliamentary debate, while creating new industries, all under the umbrella of Islam (Library of Congress, 2003) The Islamic educational influence on the Indian sub-continent had begun with the Arab invasion of Debal (a port city of Sindh near Karachi) in the 8th century AD. Muhammad Bin Qasim's expedition in 711 established a Muslim colony in Sindh, and introduced Islamic culture into the sub-continent with their emphasis on honesty, benevolence, moral behaviour and learning. The Muslim influence grew rapidly in that area with its consequent impact on education.

Meanwhile the British Empire's struggle for dominance in Indian affairs had begun. (During the overlapping period of British rule the emperors had a social and religious role.) By 1849 the British East India Company's rule had been extended over virtually the whole of the sub-continent by conquest of territories (Compton, 1997).

Since then there has been a long and complex interaction between the Indian subcontinent and Britain, being formalised in 1876 when the British government declared India (at that time including the present Pakistan and Bangladesh) to be an empire. This status continued until partition and independence in 1947.

Islam and education

Any education system possesses a strategy that reflects its nation's belief and supports its national character (Mallinson, 1980; pp.12ff). The philosophy and concept of national style concerns itself with the general strategies adopted by a nation or civilisation to solve its major problems. It is clear, thus, that an educational system is based on its national purposes and objectives, reflecting its "underlying philosophies and national purposes".

Kamazias comments on Kandel's (1933) analysis ...

In order to understand, appreciate and evaluate the real meaning of the educational system of a nation, it is essential to know something of its history and traditions, of the forces and attitudes governing its social organisation, of the political and economic conditions that determine its development (p.xix). He writes ...

Education ... cannot be viewed as an autonomous enterprise. It must be viewed in relation to national background, and the social, economic, political, and intellectual environment. (p.8). But it is not easy to do such a cultural analysis in studying education without personal involvement and bias. For the present study the researcher sought to be careful to retain a dispassionate view, whilst not losing the value of the insights gained by being a part of the system under study.

Pakistan was thus established as an ideological state. Unlike with the other religions, the demand for Pakistan as a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent was based on a specific philosophy covering all walks of life. Islam is not seen merely as a set of beliefs, but a code of life which includes spiritual, social, cultural, political, economic and legal values.

It has been observed in literature review that education in Pakistan at all levels is characterised by low quality since independence. Unfortunately in Pakistan attempts have not been made to develop inquiring minds in students through self-observation, experimentation, questioning and critical discussion.

All educational programs carried out by the government have not been distinctly fruitful because learners have not yet been encouraged to develop and practice learning by themselves even though this is regarded as the core of education. We must encourage learners to learn and assimilate their knowledge with real life situations. This will assist learners in finding proper ways to learn by themselves, analyze and understand problems they conflict and get in touch with direct experiences generating new models of learning (Nasim Fatima, 2003). If we examine the causes of failure, then...

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