Forging Identities through Schooling: Tensions and Contradictions between Religious and National Identities in Pakistan

By Naureen Durrani.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents an exploration of the way Pakistani national identity is represented in the education policy, curriculum and textbooks, revealing that
religion, Islam, is used as the chief marker that forms the boundary between Pakistanis and the ‘other’. Imagining Pakistani nation through Islam helps forge unity among diverse ethnic and linguistic groups comprising Pakistan. At the same time this singular national identity serves as an instrument of denial of diversity and internal difference. Furthermore, the overwhelming association of
Islamic with Pakistani identity creates tensions and contradictions between the religious and national identity of Pakistanis. The paper starts with a review of current education policy, the grade V curriculum documents and textbooks and then turns to focus on the impact of the curriculum on students’ perceptions of their national identity. The curriculum analysis is organised around two key themes: Religion, Islam, as a key identifier of Pakistani identity and the tensions and contradictions between Muslim nationhood and Pakistani nationhood. The empirical study reported here explores how curriculum texts construct Pakistani identity and the ways in which students understood and described themselves as Pakistani.The data was collected over a period of five months in
which four primary state schools in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), two girls’ and two boys’ schools, one each in a rural and an urban setting, were
studied intensively. Within each primary school, class V students’ views were captured through single sex focus groups. The research illustrates the ideological power of the curriculum and school experiences in constructing
identities, creating belonging and imagining the nation.

Keywords: National Identity, Religious Identity, Curriculum, Representation, Pakistan

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.249-256. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 526.853KB).

Naureen Durrani

Ph.D. Candidate, School of Education, Sussex Institute, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK


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