Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Ayaz Naseem, Michelle Savard.
Presented at the International Conference on Teaching History, Calcutta, 30 July - 1 August 2015.
Over 47,000 people have been killed in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan and most of the violence can be attributed to Pakistani militants who target ordinary citizen (The Institute for Conflict Management 2014). All perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Pakistan since 9/11 have been under the age of 30, and many have been in their teens (Yusuf 2011). According to the findings of a large-scale survey conducted in Pakistan, 75 per cent of the youth surveyed identified themselves as Muslim. The United States Institute of Peace suggests that at the extremes, ‘this form of closed, homogenized self-identity can increase youths’ propensity to radicalization, leading them to accept or at times even justify violence conducted against other groups in the name of Islam’ (Haque 2014: 2). Although radicalization can be viewed as a precursor to organized violence, in Pakistan the focus of radicalization is to use ‘Islam as a political ideology that justifies and promotes intolerance and violence against certain foreign and domestic segments of society’ (Yusuf 2011: 78).
We argue that educational texts used in the public schools in Pakistan contribute and fosters to this ‘closed homogenized Islamic identity’. Militarism and an Islamic identity are normalized in textbooks in Pakistan and educational discourse in Pakistan is used to instill violence in minds of children and youth, which has the potential to create breeding ground for the radicalization of youth.
In their seminal work, Bush and Saltarelli (2000) suggest that education has ‘two faces’ in that it can used to ‘drive a wedge between people’ or seek to deconstruct structures of violence and construct structures of peace. There is a need to deconstruct and/or demolish the constructs of war from the minds of the citizens in order for the constructs of peace to be installed (Bush and Saltarelli 2000: vi–vii). To make this shift, there is a great need to understand how these textbooks serve to shape a militaristic identity and propagate continual violence.
This first part of this paper will describe the background on the conflict between India and Pakistan, provide examples of the normalization of militarism in Pakistani social studies and Urdu-language texts and link those messages to the current radicalization of youth in Pakistan. The second part will demonstrate how peace education is being used in Pakistan as a tool for peace-building and to contest constructs of violence.
More than a billion people in South Asia have been living under the shadow of war and nuclear threat since the mid 1990s. The two nuclear powers, namely India and Pakistan, have clashed militarily three times over in the last 68 years and have returned from the brink of armed conflict on a number of occasions. Both countries spend billions of dollars annually to remain trained and equipped for military operation. More specifically, from 2010 to 2014, India spent 2.4 per cent of its GDP on military preparedness while Pakistan spent 3.4 per cent. As a comparison, its neighbours spent substantially less (Afghanistan 1.3, Nepal 1.5 and China 2.1) and, with the exception of China, military spending in the region is on the decline  (World Bank 2015). Although there have been attempts to build peace between the two countries, the results have always been temporary. For example, in 2014, the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, attended the inauguration of India’s newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, in Delhi as a gesture of peace. At the time, Sharif was quoted as saying, ‘If India takes one step for good relations, Pakistan will take two’ (Perkovich and Dalton n.d.). However, later in the year, Prime Minister Sharif said in regards to nuclear power, ‘I wish to make it clear that we will protect the sovereignty and security of Pakistan at all cost’ (Sharif 2015). Throughout the year, both countries continue to violate ceasefire agreements. India has accused Pakistan of making 250 ceasefire violations this year, while Pakistan claims that India has broken the peace agreement 90 times in August and September 2015 (Iqbal 2015). The most recent violence occurred on the border which resulted in the death of soldiers and over 100 civilians (Iqbal 2015). Naturally, the scepticism and resistance to the peace process in large segments of both countries’ populations persists. Mutual perceptions of hostility, deceit, mistrust and enmity continue to define the relationship between these two countries and their populations.
There are many causes of distrust among the politicians and the people of India and Pakistan towards each other. Some of these causes include the Partition of India in 1947, which resulted in violence, loss of life and property; geopolitical and strategic dynamics of the region; and the realpolitik and the dynamics of the Cold War. All of these have been amply researched. However, one of the major causes of the distrust that has received scant attention from researchers and scholars is the use of education by the rival states in first sowing and then nurturing the seeds of mistrust. It is within the education system and the ensuring discourse where the construction of the ‘other’ takes place. In Pakistan textbooks are used to create this binary between the self and the other by demonizing India/Hindu as the external ‘other’. The Pakistani self is then articulated and understood in relation to this other.
Individuals see themselves defined by group memberships. During political conflicts, collective identities are institutionalized. Social identity theory put forward that once individuals identify with a group, they would assert effort to achieve in-group distinctiveness and to reinforce the legitimacy of the group goals. This leads to polarized collective identities between groups and a delegitimization of the ‘other’ group (Recchia and Wainryb 2011).
In addition to these individual-level psychological risks, it is widely recognized that the construction of polarized identities in the context of armed conflicts can serve as important barriers to peace-making and may serve to perpetuate cycles of violence. Specifically, once constructed, polarized identities tend to maintain, reproduce, and even exacerbate the ethos of conflict that led to them in the first place (Bar-Tal 2007: 4).
The constraints of time and space do not allow for a detailed comparative exploration of the creation of the ‘other’ in this paper. Suffice it to say that both the Indian and Pakistani education system are shaping an exclusive, nationalistic and religious identity of their children, which fuels an ongoing conflict. Given that children and their families ‘generally believe what they are taught at school and what is written in state sanctioned education materials, one can safely assume that a lot of the lies will be swallowed without question’ (Lall 2008: 22).
The following section examines Pakistani curricular documents and textbooks pertaining to the teaching of Urdu and social studies and provides examples, many of which are very subtle in nature, which show how this ‘othering’ is accomplished and how this may be contributing to a call to violent action.
Textbook Design, Development and Purpose
Each province in Pakistan has the authority to develop their curriculum and subsequent textbooks, which they do in isolation of key stakeholders (such as parents, school administrators or teachers). Consequently, textbooks are badly designed, inaccurate and often content decisions appear to be arbitrary. Moreover they are poorly written and have an abundance of editorial mistakes (Aziz, 1993). For example, in the Social Studies textbook for grade 8, there is a lack of clarity in the language used. For example:
The World War was still on and Germany had won initial successes. The Indian sub-continent was showing signs of restlessness and concern. The British Government realized it and sent another mission, Cripps Mission under Sir Stafford Cripps with new proposals on the ‘take it or leave it principle’(2012: 83).
Breaking of atom can create immense energy which can be harnessed for constructive purposes for the betterment of humanity. It has got its dark aspect also, a minor manifestation of which was seen the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2012: 105).
In essence, the textbooks in Pakistan take a top-down approach and put forward the agenda of the state. In contrast, textbooks developed using the principles of peace education use a bottom-up approach and involve the administrators, community, parents, teachers and school. The latter texts are therefore rooted in current realities with an eye on deconstructing concepts of the ‘other’.
This paper examines the texts used to teach Urdu and Social Studies. Urdu is a compulsory subject that is taught at all levels starting in class 1, while Social Studies, also compulsory, starts at class 3. The military regime of Ayub Khan in 1958 abolished history as a subject and introduced a new subject by the name of ‘Muasharati Uloom’ or Social Studies (for classes 3–8) and Mutala Pakistan or Pakistan Studies for classes 9–12 (Aziz 1993). Both subjects are an amalgam of history, economics, civics and social studies (ibid.). The combination of history, geography and civics into one subject amounts to a fusing of time, space and the relations between citizens and the state into one subject of study through which knowledge is to be imparted to the students (Naseem 2010). Knowledge is not shared or co-created. It is teacher-centred and driven by a government agenda.
In the following space we will briefly describe the objectives of the ‘master narrative’ which is to define and create the ‘other’ and we will illustrate how the language (Urdu) and the Social Studies text in Pakistani public schools support the master narrative by constructing militaristic tendencies and mindsets.
The Master Narrative and the Normalization of Militarism
The term ‘master narrative’ is understood to encompass the cultural standards that are imparted by individuals with some authority. These narratives enforce a way of seeing the world and provide the cultural standard in which to make sense of personal experience. ‘Master narratives are used by cultural stakeholders as strategies for the management of meaning making’ (Fivush and Haden, 2003: 171).
According to the master narrative constructed by the educational discourse in the Urdu and Social Sciences texts, the Indian/Hindu other is committed to destroy the existence of Pakistan, primarily by military force but also by other means (economic, cultural imperialism, ideological, etc.). The ‘other’ cannot be trusted and, any peace initiative must be viewed with scepticism and suspicion (thus the need to be in a constant state of military preparedness). For example, the Urdu (language) textbook for class 5 (2002c), states that, ‘Hindu has always been the enemy’. This reinforces the message contained in the preceding grade 4 Social Studies textbook (2002b) which tells the students that it is the Hindu religion that makes them scheming, and conniving, as it does not teach them ‘good things’. To examine binary oppositions, Derrida proposed that text be deconstructed by focusing on what is not said in the margins of a text (Derrida 1982). Therefore in the ‘margins’ of Social Studies 4, it can be inferred that the Hindu religion teaches ‘bad things’ or behaviours or practices that are contrary to the Muslim faith. To ‘normalize’ this Hindu-Muslim binary, the normalcy of war and reinforce the state as the ultimate protector, the textbooks use references and stories from the Islamic past (both the distant past in the Arabian peninsula (circa sixth century), the historic past after the advent of Islam in India (circa eighth century), and the most recent past in the context of the division of India into Pakistan and India. In a post-structuralist sense, normalization ‘means the establishment of measurements, hierarchies and regulations around the idea of a distributionary statistical norm within a given population—the ideas of judgment based on what is normal’ (Ball, 1990: 2; also see Covaleski, 1993). Whatever is normalized is made to look natural, accepted and not to be questioned. Anything outside is an aberration.
In Pakistan’s case the measurement of nationalism, patriotism and what it means to be a citizen is accomplished by normalizing militarism, authority, discipline and a gendered social hierarchy. This is accomplished through narratives about military battles between Pakistan and India, Pakistani military heroes and other related figures. At times 50–60 per cent of the content deals with nationalist subjects (Aziz 1993). Excluded from the text and educational discourse are prominent Pakistanis other than the military heroes and the leaders of the nationalist movement. For example, there are no scientists, artists, social workers, journalists or statesmen who are deemed worthy of inclusion in the educational texts (language and social studies in our case). The extent of such exclusion can be gauged from the fact that not even the Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam or the acclaimed social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi (considered to be the Mother Theresa of Pakistan) are included. Secondly, all minorities, religious, linguistic or ethnic groups are also excluded from the texts. Third, the text use the antiquated, generic ‘he’ or masculine pronoun which excludes all females. For example, in the Social Studies 8 text it reads, ‘Only God knows the limits of man’s insatiable urge for advancement, but it is quite obvious that he will continue to amass new wonders of creation with his urge for the conquest of the universe (2012: 105; emphasis added). Thus, the texts or master narrative establish who and what is important for the national memory, who the role models are (male military heroes) and who and what shall be obscured from the national consciousness. ‘Increasingly, a mindset that reinforces the siege mentality represented in school curricula has become part of the national ethos’ (Yusuf 2011: 83).
Students (or pupil-citizens) are exposed to the master narrative and make meaning from a very early age. As they grow up and move through the educational system, the discourse exacerbates and normalizes militarism (Naseem 2010). The literature on the moral development of children indicates that children develop a moral compass from a very young age. Children who have participated in armed conflict do so by delegitimizing or dehumanizing their victims which is one of ‘the most powerful set of mechanisms for disengaging moral controls’ (Wainryb 2011: 276). These texts dehumanize the Hindu/ Indian. Consequently, when these pupil-citizens enter their adult life they have deeply entrenched images of India and Hindus as the ‘other’ (or the enemy). Such images make these pupil-citizens distrustful of the intentions of the rival states and skeptical about peace building initiatives. The master narrative not only creates mistrust around the prospect of peace, these messages could be the fodder for the radicalization of youth in Pakistan. In fact, Candland (2014) goes as far to say that the government curriculum incites religious and sectarian violence. According to the United States Institute of Peace, ‘Pakistan’s public school curriculum uses flawed textbooks that distort student perceptions, limit their critical thinking skills and obscure the real causes of violence and terrorism in the country . . . ’ (Ratnam 2012: 1).
The Concepts of Shahadat (Martyrdom) and Jihad (Holy War)
The curriculum documents and the textbooks related to the teaching of Urdu and social studies in Pakistan erroneously construct Jihad as one of the essential preconditions for being a Muslim. To explain, there are five essential pre-conditions for being a Muslim: faith, prayer, fasting, charity and Hajj: Jihad is not one of them. Secondly, as laid down in the scriptures Jihad by way of armed combat is only one of the 50+ types of struggle. The texts incidentally present armed combat as the only form of Jihad.
The curriculum documents direct the textbook writers to inculcate a sense of Ummah (Muslim nationhood) among the students. In addition, textbook publishers are instructed to teach students to follow the Islamic traditions, namely, to be honest, patriotic and self-sacrificing warriors of Islam (mujahids). The curriculum documents further mandate that stories about martyrs of Pakistan be used to incite Jihad, create love and aspiration for Jihad, Tableegh (proselytization), Shahadat (martyrdom), sacrifice, Ghazi (victor of war) . . . and that students should be required to make speeches about the primacy and importance of Jihad.
Militarized nationalism constructed by the textbooks and curricula is not only limited to the national level. A prime example of this is the use of the totalizing notions such as Ummah and nation etc. by the texts. Theoretically, such totalization is justified by drawing upon the religious notion of Ummah (the global Muslim community). The notion is presented in a way that is both divisive and totalizing at the same time. It is divisive in that it separates Muslims from non-Muslims and totalizing in the sense that it obfuscates all cultural, linguistic and sectarian differences within the larger Muslim community. Yusuf (2011) argues that since critical thinking is not encouraged, students are then ‘more susceptible to Islamist messages that aptly connect the need for militancy with an anti-West, pro-Ummah narrative’ (Yusuf, 2011: 82).
The collocation of nationalism and religion results in a situation where everything that the text says has the authority and sanction of religion. Conversely, anyone who questions this is deemed anti-Islam. The texts use a xenophobic juxtaposition of nationalism and religion to define citizenship (Naseem 2010, 2014). The texts, thus articulate the ideal Pakistani citizen as one who is nationalist, patriotic, religious and one who does not question the ways of the military. When surveyed, Pakistani youth identified themselves largely as Muslims as opposed to Pakistani (Haque 2014). If according to the textbooks, Jihad as armed combat is an essential precept of faith and with the militaristic messages and the normalization of violence that they get in school, it would follow that the seeds have been sown for the bulging youth population in Pakistan to lean towards radicalization.
The next section examines some of the factors and intersections that may lead to the radicalization of youth in Pakistan.
Factors Contributing to the Radicalization of Youth
Two Faces of Education
Linkages formed between active terrorists; religious and political organizations; and missionary Islamic organizations create an enabling environment for the radicalization of youth. Yusuf and Jawaid (2014) summarizes the existing educational enablers in Pakistan that could potentially shift youth closer to radicalization. These include:
Religiosity/ support for Sharia
Intolerance/ exclusionary belief systems
Sizeable minority does not oppose all violence
Differentiation among types of militant violence
Religion before nationalism
In the previous section, we demonstrated how each of these enablers appeared in primary textbooks. Winthrop and Graff (2010) also examine the impact of education using the critical lens of Bush and Saltarelli (2000) who recognized that education can enable or prevent political violence. Winthrop and Graff put forward that first, education systems can either exacerbate or mitigate grievances toward government, which will increase or decrease the likelihood of citizens supporting or joining militant groups. For example, these grievances can stem from students feeling like they are a low priority in the eyes of the government as the education offered is substandard or they may feel oppressed or underrepresented in educational texts. Second, educational systems can help or hinder a student’s ability to challenge extremist beliefs and to develop more acceptance of diversity. As an example, in the Social Studies text, students learn that ‘Before Islam, people lived in untold misery all over the world’ (PTB 2002d: 13). Such a construction portrays Muslims as saviours who salvaged the people from the dark ages. Third, education systems have a choice of teaching critical thinking, ‘citizenship’ skills, and how to resolve conﬂict, or they can engage in ‘war education’ which normalizes violence. New research is showing that although youth are often recruited by terrorist organizations for strong technical skills, it appears that those with a strong technical background do not tend to be critical thinkers (Winthrop and Graff 2010). Finally, schools can limit access to education or offer poor quality education, which is linked to fewer employment prospects, poverty and subsequently increases the likelihood of being recruited by a militant group.
Winthrop and Graff (2010) also point to risk factors inherent in the socio-political context such as the government cannot currently meet the demand for education; access to education is not equitable; and schools are not preparing students for the labour force. They recommend ‘a nuanced analysis of the mechanisms whereby education may exacerbate conflict risk suggests that in addition to access, education quality and content may be just as important for promoting stability’ (2010: 48).
Currently, there are 232 religious organizations and militant groups in Pakistan, which are free to thrive under the Pakistani government. ‘The number of militant outfits has exploded . . . with FATA literally operating as the supermart of global terrorism’ (Yusuf and Jawaid 2014: 16). While some of these organizations are peaceful or moderate, others hold violent agendas (Haque 2014). For example, although religious political parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami have endorsed violence in the past, for the most part they now endorse the political process. More militant organizations such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban are extremists and recruit youth to participant in violent revolutionary action to achieve their goals which include fighting for a just Islamic order both nationally and globally (ibid.). The counter-radicalization efforts put forward by the state and civil society focus on the manifestation of radicalization as opposed to prevention with an aim to decrease the number of youth joining violent militant organizations (Rana 2015). Yusuf and Jawaid (2014) go further and argue that not only is little being done to address the radicalization of youth, state policy serves to create a troubling ideological environment conducive to the radicalization of youth.
Supply and Demand
Yusuf (2011) argues that Pakistan contains both the supply and demand needed for radicalization. The supply side include youth who are poor, deprived, unemployed, underemployed, marginalized and who have been educated with a conservative ideology on diversity and the normalization of violence. As the divide grows in Pakistan between the ‘have’ and the ‘have-nots’, youth have become more disgruntled and feel greater alienation from their society. Recent econometric research on conflict does not point to educational content as a key risk factor but rather puts forward that underdevelopment (partially caused by lack of access to education) and countries with low income per capita are at an increased risk of political violence (Winthrop and Graff 2010). However, we would argue that any one of these factors in isolation does not lead to radicalization as many high profile terrorists have come from affluent background and statistically only a small minority come from the lower socio-economic spectrum (Yusuf and Jawaid, 2014). It is where these variables intersect that we find a far better predictor of radicalization (i.e. political ideology, religious extremist views, and the powerful intolerance put forward regarding infidels which they get in school).
The ‘demand’ side put forward by Yusuf (2011) includes a plethora of causes for youth to fight for and numerous militant groups who actively seek young recruits. These groups fundraise; recruit countrywide, and openly and aggressively put forward their ideological message on social media and other public forums. No one can escape these pervasive messages. These narratives include, ‘Islam is in danger due to the invasion of infidel forces in Afghanistan (and elsewhere, i.e. Iraq); jihad is a legitimate tool in this situation; we can authorize it as the Pakistani state has lost its legitimacy by supporting the infidels (Yusuf and Jawaid 2014: 17). As mentioned, the state does not distance themselves from these messages and in fact through textbooks offers a distinction between justified versus unjustified violence.
The process of radicalization can best be seen as a continuum ranging from mild intolerance to diversity to polarization of youth mindsets that are intolerant of opposing views to sympathy for violence to the actual involvement of violence (Yusuf and Jawaid 2014). Findings of surveys conducted with youth point to the alarming number of youth who demonstrate religious intolerance, exclusionary thinking, a certain amount of acceptance concerning Islamist violence and their ‘us and them’ world view (Mooed and Jawaid 2014).
More research is needed, particularly an understanding is needed on those who are the most vulnerable to recruitment, and how these enablers intersect. Furthermore, examining the radicalization of youth from a socio-ecological perspective would provide a better understanding of the trajectory of radicalized youth. A de-radicalization strategy, Haque (2014) argues needs to address this religious-bound identity and focus on enhancing other facets of identity (i.e. social, and civic). Promoting acceptance, deconstructing the ‘other’, fostering a civic identity though critical thinking and dialogue is at the heart of peace education. The next section proposes that the implementation of peace education could decrease the risk of the radicalization of Pakistani youth and provides examples of a peace education programmes.
Disarming the Militarized Consciousness with Peace Education
Peace Education Defined
‘War is born in the minds of men, and if we are to find new paths towards resolution of conflicts, we must disarm the armed conscience.’ (Adolf Perez Esquivel) We argue that it is vital to first deconstruct and/or demolish the constructs of war from the minds of citizens in order for the constructs of peace to be installed. Continuing with Pakistan, one of the likely places for such an exercise to begin is the site of the textbooks and curricula as these are the very sites where war and violence is constructed and instilled into the minds of children. It is within the classroom where the agency to resist war and violence resides. Significant strides have been made in this respect over the past decade (Naseem 2014). There has been a marked decline in content that aims to inculcate militarized mind sets and subjectivities. However, there is still work that needs to be done in this respect. Scholars in combination with the civil society organizations in Pakistan are keeping up the pressure on respective provincial governments to rid the textbooks of militaristic content. There is thus hope that the texts will contribute to development of tolerant mind sets and an inclusive society.
Reardon states that the purpose of peace education is to ‘promote the development of planetary consciousness that will enable us to function as global citizens and to transform the present human condition by changing the social structures that make up our public order’ (Reardon 1988: x). For Galtung (1979) peace education is the eradication of systematic inequalities that are caused by physical or structural violence that deny citizens their basic human rights. Peace education constitutes a set of principles that go beyond teaching peace as a distinct subject; rather it optimally is integrated into curricula and civil societies and provides opportunities for youth to engage in dialogue about human rights, environmental, and developmental issues as well as discuss non-violent conflict resolution. It is a humanistic pedagogy that attempts to foster the action needed to make the world a better place by diminishing inequality, prejudice, and intolerance (Bar-Tal 2005).
Although the political will and the capacity to implement peace education into the mainstream curriculum does not yet exist in Pakistan (Yusuf 2011), without exception, researchers who examine the education system in Pakistan propose peace education as a means to mitigate the radicalization of youth.
Haque (2014) recommends that civil society initiatives need to be strengthened in Pakistan in conjunction with educational curriculum reform with the aim to cover ‘interfaith and inter-sectarian harmony, tolerance, and diversity within the religious framework’ (Haque 2014: 4). This last point regarding the religious framework as the backdrop for peace education is key to its success as religious scholars and establishment in Pakistan is highly conservative and opposed to initiatives that could be construed as an attempt to impose Western values (Yusuf 2011). Countering the potential radicalization of youth in Pakistan with peace education requires ‘a holistic approach that supports political, social and educational alternatives to exclusionary Islamic identities, reducing the space for groups that espouse violence (Haque 2014: 1).
Peace Education in Pakistan
The following provides examples of peace education initiatives in Pakistan and describes a few of the programme that are in place.
In 2007, the United States Institute for Peace delivered a five-day symposium on peace education training for religious scholars and madrasa educators in Islamabad. The purpose was to address the growing concern and criticism that madrasas were cultivating terrorists through their school system. During the conference, madrasa educators developed a peace education curriculum and agreed to share what they had learned with other madrasas (Srinivasan 2009). A few years later, USIP worked with both Sunni and Shi’ite religious scholars to produce an Islamic peace education textbook for religious high schools in Pakistan, which is now published in Urdu. Teachers, community members and civil society were also provided training on conflict resolution (USIP n.d.). During these projects there was substantial resistance. Educators and community members were suspicious of the Institute and their motivations behind these initiatives. It appears that the projects’ success can be attributed to context or cultural sensitivity, as the initiatives not only were led by Pakistani educators but also were integrated within the religious and cultural context.
In 2009, Anupama Srinivasan conducted a survey of peace education programmes in South Asia. The researcher found four, donor-driven peace education initiatives in Pakistan which focussed on democracy and citizenship education. These programmes address: the animosity between India and Pakistan by pairing students, the intolerance put forward by school textbooks; citizenship education; democracy and human rights education (Srinivasan 2009). The initiatives include:
The Children’s Museum for Peace and Human Rights (CMPHR) in Karachi. The museum has six interactive galleries visited by school children and several yearly campaigns relevant to peace education. Usually they work with 300 to 500 schools on these campaigns to create dialogue about diversity, acceptance, child rights etc.
Grammar School Rawalpindi developed a human rights and peace education curriculum and trains teachers in peace education.
The Centre for Education and Consciousness has several programmes in Pakistan. They address child labour and child marriages as well as deliver programmes on citizenship education, democracy, human rights and governance to youth, communities, school councils and teachers (Centre for Education and Consciousness 2015)
The Simorgh Women’s Resource Centre’s School Textbook Project was created to counter violence and intolerance put forward in school textbooks (Srinivasan 2009).
The largest peace education programme found in Pakistan was initiated through Peaceful Schools International (PSI). They are working in 25 schools in Karachi ‘to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to reject violence and resolve conflict peacefully’ (Pazhwak 2015). Over the past two years, more than 390 teachers and 100 administrators and policymakers have attended PSI’s peace education work-shops. Creating a Culture of Peace: A Practical Guide for Schools has been distributed widely and contains lessons on communication, cooperation, conflict resolution, alternatives to punishment, etc. The guide was developed by Nadeem Ghazi, the Regional Coordinator for PSI in Pakistan who conducted workshops collecting ideas from teachers around the region on creating a culture of peace.
There is no doubt that these programmes are doing great work. Some site behavioural change in participants as a result of participating in their programmes. However, evaluations or anecdotal information on their programme’s effectiveness could not be found. We proposed early on in this article that school textbooks promoted militarism and the normalization of violence which could lead to Pakistani youth harboring constructs of war. Therefore, the con-verse may also have merit in that fostering an understanding of a culture of peace, conflict resolution, citizenship and human rights should then lead embracing constructs of peace. There is evidence of growth in peace education programmes but until the government and the society at large can be convinced that it is essential to integrate within the mainstream public curricula, peace will continue to grow in only small pockets around the country.
To conclude, the need to build defences of peace is imminent now more than ever. Avenues for peace building must be proactively explored such as the potential of textbooks and educational media within the public curricula as sites for deconstructing violence and building peace. This potential must be realized and dedicated efforts must be made at all levels (research, policy, practice) to use textbooks and educational media for peace buil