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International Education: Focus on Pakistan

Student/Country Focus

   The December 2017 Student/Country Focus is provided by Mariam Sheikh from Pakistan.

Mariam Sheikh

Asalaam-u-alaikum!

My name is Mariam. I’m a full-time student at UCL Institute of Education, pursuing a postgraduate degree in Education and International Development. Exciting, yet challenging, this is my first experience of being away from home.

So far, independent life in a place as diverse as London has been an enriching journey. With only one year to myself, I feel the city offers much more than I can possibly explore.

Mariam's Education and Experience in Pakistan

In 2016, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan. During my study, I had never imagined myself to develop interest in teaching. With most of my friends choosing the corporate highway, I found it difficult to navigate a non-traditional career path. Teaching in Pakistan is still perceived as an ‘easy’ or a female-friendly job, making it an inferior choice compared to other professions. However, I remained determined as I was confident in my ability to make children realize their potential. Choosing to start my career in teaching, I knew my trail would be satisfying yet arduous.

After graduation, I started working as a Mathematics and Economics IGCSE Teacher at a private school. Alongside, I worked as a Head Teaching Assistant at my university to gain experience in higher education. My experiences as a teacher piqued my interest in curriculum and learning outcomes for children. Despite the adoption of 21st century pedagogy in schools, I could identify problems such as lack of critical thinking and questioning in children.

The stress remains on rote learning whereby students memorize the content and replicate their memory on paper. My biggest concern, however, was the hidden curriculum; the unintended lessons taught in classroom. I took particular interest in how textbooks on History of Pakistan and Islamic Studies had inappropriate narratives. Distortion of facts and exaggeration of historical events creates an “us” vs. “them” mindset and we underestimate the ability of this hidden curriculum to instill intolerance at a societal level. I would like to recommend the book, The Murder of History: A Critique of History Textbooks Used in Pakistan by K.K. Aziz, an eminent Pakistani historian. It would inspire people to investigate and critically analyze how history in their country is taught.

I am soon to start working on my dissertation which will investigate the causal link between hate material in textbooks and religious intolerance in Pakistan. I am looking forward to the results of my research and its contributions to discussions that involve the removal of hate material from textbooks in Pakistan.

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