Pakistan Journal of Educational Research and Evaluation (PJERE), Vol 9, No 1 (2021)

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Mapping Trajectories of Educational Reforms in Pakistan: A Functionalist and Neo-Marxist Views

Syed Amir Shah


Educational system in the postcolonial state of Pakistan evolved under two dominant narratives - to transform the traditional agrarian society into a modern industrial state and to socialize its diverse population in common norms, values and beliefs. The former focused on development of human capital while the latter emphasized on social cohesion and formulating a common national identity. These functional aspects of education were realized from the early days of its independence in 1947, which also laid the foundation for educational policy in the country. Successive governments incorporated development of educational sector as cornerstone of their policy, however, these educational policies were hardly translated into tangible action and practice. This paper argues that the functional aspects of education overshadowed the socio-economic inequalities associated with education, on grounds of region, class, gender and ethnicity in the state of Pakistan. To elaborate that how functionalism shapes the outcome of educational policies, functionalist paradigm is contrasted with neo-Marxist theoretical framework to map the particular trajectory of Pakistani education system. This contrast reveals disparities not only in inequitable access to educational opportunities on grounds of class, gender or region, but it also shifts our attention to the inequalities within schools, such as variations in curricula, language of instruction, textbooks, pedagogy and school cultures. 

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