Hired Education: The Commission on National Education and Modernity in Pakistan

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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
Stream: Teaching and Learning , Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Hired Education


Ali Qadir

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Cultural Studies, National College of Arts, Lahore
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan

I am engaged in teaching and research in the emerging field of Cultural Studies in the only such department in Pakistan. NCA is the country’s leading arts education institution, and the only one in the public sector. My research work has focussed on constructions of modernity and their philosophical and cultural implications in Pakistan. I am now increasingly philosophically unpacking the notion of multiple modernities in the historicised context of Pakistan, which incorporates elements of postcolonialism and religion. I have been examining the institution of higher education in Pakistan. However, this work is now leading to a rounder understanding of the phenomenon known as 'radical Islam' or 'fundamentalism', whose impacts are being (violently and non-violently) felt nationally and globally.

Ref: H08P0376