Lack of Awareness of Citizenship Education in Pakistan

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Citizenship is about who we are, how we live together, and what kind of people our children are to become. As such, it is a normative concept meaning that it stems from a moral point of view. There are many competing proposals about what is necessary for good citizenship and effective citizenship education.

Citizenship defines to what or whom we give our loyalty, how we relate to other citizens, and our vision of the ideal society. The concerns are not so much with the legal definition of citizenship as with some normative sense of good citizenship. This sense of what constitutes the good citizen varies across time, cultures, genders, and political philosophies.

Citizenship education is made up of different elements and disputes that arise about the relative emphasis to be placed on each element. Although many agree on the same elements -- knowledge, skills, and values, there is wide disagreement about the role, nature, and relative importance of each one. The range of views about what constitutes good citizenship has led to a variety of approaches to citizenship education. One analysis of programs of studies and other curriculum policies identified four conceptions of citizenship education, ranging from passive to active approaches (Sears and Hughes, 1996).

There are different ranges of models of good citizenship. These models offer different views of four components: national identity; social, cultural and supranational belonging; an effective system of rights; and political and civic participation (Hébert & Sears). Citizens vary in their sense of belonging -- to the local community, to the nation, and perhaps even the planet. Almost all citizens will feel some sense of attachment to all of these, but each citizen will find his/her primary sense of belonging in one, and that may vary among individuals or across groups. Citizens vary in terms of participation and engagement in society. Citizens also vary in their realities within countries, with some groups experiencing a profound sense of exclusion on the basis of language, race, ethnicity, gender, belief, and poverty.

In recent years, the concept of citizenship has become more inclusive. In this view, there are multiple ways of being citizen. In Europe, a person might be a citizen of France and of the European Union, the latter as a supra-national category. In Canada, a person might be a citizen of a First Nation or a citizen of Quebec, and also a citizen of Canada. This is known as 'multicultural citizenship' (Kymlicka, 1999) sometimes shortened to 'multiple citizenship'.


The range of views about what constitutes good citizenship has led to a variety of approaches to citizenship education. One analysis of programs of studies and other curriculum policies identified four conceptions of citizenship education, ranging from passive to active approaches (Sears and Hughes, 1996). Conservative and passive approaches emphasize socialization or the development of loyalty to the national state. These approaches exist through the accumulation of static and limited knowledge of national history and traditions. Activist approaches emphasize engagement with the important issues of the day and participation in forming and reforming society at local, national and even global levels.

There is a growing recognition that citizenship is a complex, multidimensional concept that citizens, even in the same state, will understand differently. Much of the leading academic work in this area has been done by Canadian scholars such as Charles Taylor, Will Kymlicka, and Alan Cairns. They argue that most modern states are diverse and contain various types of minority groups which may not completely share the same sense of common citizenship. Even so, it is possible to build a common civic culture which allows for considerable diversity. In Canada and many other countries, education for diversity has become a central focus of the intended curriculum in citizenship education.

One of the most important goals of education is the preparation of young people for their role as citizens. The problem, however, is that many countries including Pakistan do not give citizenship education the importance it deserves, nor use approaches appropriate to the development of informed and participatory citizenship. (Dean, 2000; Kerr, McCarthy and Smith 2002; Torney-Purta and Amadeo 1999) In 2002, the Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development (AKUIED) became a partner in a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities Pakistan (CRRP) project. The Project aimed to improve citizenship education in Pakistani schools through the development of supplementary curriculum materials; the development of a cadre of teachers to educate for citizenship; and the formulation of a national citizenship education program in Pakistan. Prior to the project the CRRP team at AKU-IED assessed the current state of citizenship education in schools. Two research studies: an analysis of the social studies curriculum and textbooks used in Pakistani schools and a review of teaching and learning practices in citizenship education were conducted. This paper shares the findings of these studies and suggests how citizenship education can be promoted through teacher education, empowering communities and youth awareness campaign.

Pakistani society, keeping in view its pre and post independence history, reflects its plurality in all spheres of social life. However, the factor of peace, tolerance, respect and coexistence is absent. This proves that social institutions like family, school and society at large have failed to develop such qualities among its citizens. There is ample research to suggest that a school, after a family, is the major institution where children develop civic qualities. Proper civic education model not only focuses on civic skills but also pays sufficient heed to the civic knowledge and civic disposition.

Civic education is composed of three layers: knowledge, skills and disposition. Civic knowledge is concerned with the context of what citizens ought to know. The second essential component is civic skills which allow citizens to think critically and act rationally. Finally, civic disposition is a quality which brings a sense of moral responsibility, self discipline, respect for human dignity and civility.

However, when we look at the education system and the civic learning outcome in the Pakistani education system, it reflects the dilapidated condition of civic education in our private and public sector institutions. This subject does not exist in its independent status. Subjects like social studies, Islamiat and Pakistan studies have limited chunks

of civic education. The national education policy does not explicitly contain civic education objectives. Therefore, from the educational policy document to the publication of our text books the component of civic education in its quality and quantity is marginalised. Moreover, the major focus of civic education in Pakistani context is merely imparted knowledge and sense of loyalty for the state in the citizen

(Ministry of Education, Policy document, 1959).

Since the inception of Pakistan in 1947, political destabilisation has brought biased educational policies aiming to confirm political and ideological agendas instead of creating positive, rational, tolerant and critical citizenship. In 1958, the Sharif Commission was appointed by Ayub Khan to develop a national education system. This commission identified that the education system is lacking in national unity and technological progress (Ministry of Education, 1959). However, development of civic competencies, skills, attitudes and dispositions among the citizens of Pakistan was overlooked by the commission. Moreover, during this period civics was merged in the subjects of history and geography (Dean, 2005). Therefore, it can be claimed that separate status of an important subject, vital for the citizenship education lost its independence existence in martial law period.

In 1972, political frustration caused by economic and social inequality left its marks on civic education. The social studies subject was introduced in class 9 and 10 to develop patriotism and built national unity but the essential and required skills, disposition and knowledge for effective and positive citizenship were set aside for political goals. Another set back was during the martial law period under Zia-ul-Haq in 1979 where the prime objectives of civic education were changed. The aim of 1979 educational policy was to Islamise society and objective of citizenship education was to develop true practicing Muslims (Dean, 2005).

Finally, the National Educational Policy of (1998-2010) is also like the previous national educational policies of government of Pakistan. It focuses again on sound Islamic ideology while ignoring important aspect of effective and positive citizenship education in shape of knowledge, skills, attitude and dispositions.

The objective of citizenship education is much more beyond than collecting, locating, discussing and describing. Civic education focuses on effective, participatory and active citizenship. The social studies curriculum 2007 (for classes 4 and 5) reflects that it aims to prepare young people to become effective, participatory citizens in a democratic society. But the implementation of this curriculum needs strong will and commitment at government and private level, otherwise it would fail to produce the desired results. In addition to this, under curriculum objectives and guidance text books are published. These books carry such content which instead of developing peace, tolerance and respect among citizens brings further conflicts and intolerance. The analysis of eight text books of Sindh Text Book Board suggests that instead of instilling tolerance, respect and critical thinking and participatory skill, five out of eight books entrench biases against women, other nations, religious groups and people with disabilities (Dan, 2005). This shows the bleak picture of history and present of civic education in Pakistan.

Efforts have been made by NGOs and a few private educational institutions in the country for the promotion of civic education in schools. It is also high time for the political leadership, policy-makers and educational managers of private and public sector schools, colleges and universities to recognise the importance of civic education and work together to bring this subject in the center of learning and teaching process.


Interview with Mr. Zafarullah Khan, Chief Executive, Civic Education

An interview was conducted with Mr. Zafruallah Khan, Chief Executive, Civic education. He gave a sound understanding on the lack of awareness and importance attached to Citizenship Education in Pakistan. Civic Education is doing a lot of work in collaboration with British High Commission sponsored programs in Punjab province, NWFP and Baluchistan. Center for Civic Education - Pakistan (CCE) is a nonprofit organization that functions as an independent research, civic education, training and advocacy body. The CCE provokes creative ways of thinking and promotes tolerance for dissenting viewpoints to tackle the problems emanating from the transformation in the Pakistani society and its changing norms and values. The mission of the Center for Civic Education Pakistan is to empower the individual by promoting values of responsible citizenship and principles of democracy in Pakistan. The main aim of the CCE is to cultivate and nurture civic culture, civic courage and values of freedom, tolerance, peace, rule of law and democracy to strengthen civil society. For this the CCE conducts civic education, facilitates democratic dialogue, arranges trainings, and runs advocacy campaigns besides undertaking research on issues that shape our social, political and economic future. The CCE critically examines existing socio-economic policies and suggests alternatives besides monitoring democratic developments to make Pakistan democracy inclusive and meaningful.

In its work the CCE targets a cross section of society particularly the politicians, the parliamentarians, lawyers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, industrialists, businessmen, agriculturists, academia, intellectuals, journalists, youth, students, women, minorities and civic activists to promote active citizenship with realization of civic and economic rights.

Review of citizenship education in primary and secondary schools

Two schools in Islamabad were selected for data gathering related to teachers education learning for citizenship education. A qualitative methodology and critical interpretive framework were utilized to gather data. Data was collected through observation, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. To gather data, 5 hours were spent in a primary and secondary schools. The aim was to observe the school ethical values, teaching and learning practices in the teachers' classrooms and cocurricular activities. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the head teacher and the two teachers. Documents such as the teachers' timetables, lesson plans and minutes of the meetings of the School Management Committees were also collected. The critical interpretive framework was used to analyze the data and thereby understand the actions for citizenship education that teachers engaged in, explain the perspectives and conditions that underlie these actions and identify the actions needed to create alternatives.


Capacity Building of Teachers Through Teacher Education Program

Teachers play an important role for reconceptualization of education for democratic citizenship. As citizenship education is integrated into social studies the focus must be on the social studies teacher. There should be Teacher education programmes that prepare social studies teachers to educate for democratic citizenship. The teacher should be well engaged in providing conceptualization learning in citizenship education in the classrooms. To effectively implement a citizenship education program teachers must have the requisite knowledge, engaging skills and dispositions. This implies development of knowledge of the disciplines that comprise social studies and how to use them to educate for citizenship.

Citizenship education through extra curriculum activities

Besides preparing teachers to teach for citizenship in the classroom, teacher education programmes must include ways to educate for citizenship through cocurricular activities such as celebration of local, national and international days, student councils, student clubs, and community service learning programmes. Teachers must learn the purpose of these activities and how to organize and facilitate students participation in them so that their benefits accrue to students. Teacher education programmes must view as key the development of teachers' advocacy skills. As teachers work with students in schools they must also advocate for a more just, free and peaceful society. Teacher education programmes must help teachers recognize that advocacy efforts are strengthened when they collaboratively engage in them. Thus they must develop teachers' networks and partnerships development skills. In addition, they must help teachers realize that change takes time, but persistence in advocating for change is rewarded. In order to realize this vision teacher education programmes in Pakistan must combine education at the university with school-based training. Working with

teachers in schools, teacher educators must demonstrate citizenship and work with teachers to plan, act and engage in collective self-reflective inquiry until democratic principles and practices are internalized. Mechanisms for follow-up to facilitate teachers continuing professional development and their development as democratic citizens must also be seen as integral to the programme.

Workshops and Seminars for students at university level

The universities must arrange workshops and seminars for students as awareness campaign. This would help the students to understand the concept of citizenship and their responsibility in the society.

Empowering communities:

Government should take responsibility of empowering communities which will demonstrate democratic processes through giving people the opportunity to take an active role in local issues, events and activities. It will foster the development of a community's sense of social responsibility through increasing the awareness of members about social issues, and provide a medium through which their sense of social responsibility can be translated into action. It will contribute to the development of community spirit and social cohesion through bringing people together to pursue common goals and extending people's support networks and coping capacities. It will contribute to the personal development of members through providing opportunities to broaden their views, enhance their knowledge, skills, confidence and self-esteem ยท It will develop stronger, more capable and more caring citizens who in turn contribute to the development of stronger, more capable and more caring communities. There should be focus on the community volunteers who are interested, energetic and passionate people who care about their community and who are prepared to share freely their knowledge, experience, skills and their time to make their community a better place to live. Their involvement in the community is essential for community well being.


This paper presents two research studies that assessed the current status of citizenship education in Pakistan. The study shows that the key focus of education in schools is the acquisition of factual knowledge and inculcation of Islamic, civil and moral values. It also shows that the organization and management of schools and most teaching and learning practices are not conducive to the preparation of citizenship education.

Although democratic structures such as the teacher committees, students councils exist, their functioning has to be made more democratic. The study revealed that while teaching and learning in the classroom is teacher-controlled there are a range of co-curricular activities that offer students opportunity for first hand experience of citizenship. The paper concludes with some suggestions for capacity building education program for teachers, empowering communities, workshops and seminars and citizenship education through extra curriculum activities which will enable awareness and role of importance of citizenship education in Pakistan.