Hired Education: The Commission on National Education and Modernity in Pakistan
The report of the Commission on National Education (CNE), 1959, is one of the most significant policy documents in the history of higher education in Pakistan. It was one of the key referents for the recent reform effort led by the Government, the Task Force on Improvement in Higher Education, 2002, but has been only briefly examined (as a review of Ayub Khan’s educational policies by Saigol, 2003, and as a summary of recommendations by Isani and Virk, 2003). The Commission’s analyses and recommendations have shaped the institutional nature of higher education in the country and thus offer insights into the defining impulse of building a ‘modern’ nation, which was its stated object. This paper presents some conclusions drawn from a detailed analysis of the Commission’s report, highlighting five features that underpin the report, and therefore the nation-building effort under President General Ayub Khan. These features are further analysed as constituting a tension in the report, and as defining a certain kind of modernity evident in Pakistan to this day. The paper uses these features to present initial thoughts toward conceptualising modernity in Pakistan in the light of postcolonialism and Foucault’s theorisation of normalisation.
Keywords: Modernity, Normalisation, Higher Education, Pakistan
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Cultural Studies, National College of Arts, Lahore