Society without social sciences

Aziz Ali Dad

Few people realise how critical education is for discouragement of terrorism and militancy, though there is been some soul searching of late as to what is lacking in our present education system which has made Pakistani society more intolerant and violent. The liberal intelligentsia puts the onus on the religious seminaries for the present violence in our society. But this attitude ignores elements of otherwise secular education which are capable of creating a militant mentality.

Among the various institutions providing education in Pakistan are the cadet colleges. In Pakistan, the cadet colleges typically cater to education to children of the elite and the more affluent members of society. In addition, the doors of these colleges are closed to female students.

According to a study of Centre for Peace and Development Initiative, Rs1.5 billion out of Rs8.1 billion of the total development allocation for the Federal Education Division in 2009-10 was earmarked for building 24 cadet colleges across the country. One cadet college costs around Rs500 millions. The aim of a cadet college is to produce young men who can go on to lead the army and the country. Needless to say, the students in these institutions are trained not for the pursuit of peace but in the science of war.

Another factor creating hurdles in the creation of a peaceful society is the way we set our priorities in our education system. During the last ten years Pakistan has witnessed the mushrooming of new universities in the private and government sectors. Most of these institutions offer courses which enable students to get lucrative jobs in the market. There is no denying the fact that we need professionals in the field of engineering, medicine, Information technology and trade and commerce, but it should not be at the expense of the social sciences and the humanities.

Most of the newly established institutions of higher education do not offer courses on sociology, anthropology, philosophy, literature and other disciplines. This is one reason why we are witnessing lack of direction and moral anarchy in our society. This has dire repercussions on democracy and society.

Unfortunately, this trend of decreasing emphasis on the humanistic aspects of education is not confined to Pakistan. Martha Nussbaum, in her book, “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities”, laments: “Nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves, criticise tradition, and understand the significance of another person’s sufferings and achievements. The future of the world’s democracies hangs in the balance.”

Professionals – like doctors, engineers, businessmen, software engineers – play a crucial role in the development of society, but it is the people trained in the social sciences and the humanities who help diagnose the ailments of society and show us direction. Our society is in turmoil because our education system produces either potential soldiers or automatons for the market economy. In the absence of the loadstar of the humanities our society is a rudderless ship floundering in the tumultuous ocean of globalisation. It is therefore important to curb the herd mentality of producing cogs for the machinery of war and the market, and to invest in creation of minds that can help establish a peaceful and pluralistic society.

The writer is associated with a rights-based organization in Islamabad. Email: azizalidad

Source: The NEWS

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  1. I completely agree with Mr. Aziz Ali Dad
    The irony with our education system is that it only prepare students as material productive element, which is important for development and growth of the country but on the other hand it lacks the civic enlightenment among our youth, civic education plays a vital role in building leadership,just society, societal interaction of people and their responsibilities.
    As a student of Social Sciences I think ‘Council for Social Sciences’ need to play its due role in facilitation of the development of social sciences in the country, the way PEC and PMDC facilitates their concerning subjects.
    COSS can urge HEC and the Education Ministry to take necessary steps to strengthen social sciences in the country.

  2. Dear Aziz Bhai,
    With reference to your article “society without social sciences” published in the Pamir Times, I would like to extend my humble gratitude to you for your thought provoking ideas you have shared in the article. Not only this, you always write quality articles which publish time and again in the aforementioned Daily. I am a regular reader of your articles and sometimes I get prints of them to read them at home for my personal improvement. I go along with you in accepting the fact that the purpose of our education is either producing potential fighters or automatons of the market economy, not the peace makers. As a teacher, I have often been reflecting on this point while comparing attitude of the illiterate with that of our so-called educated in our society. I could not identify whether education has anything to do with making a difference in the attitude and behavior of an individual. On certain emotional occasions, I witness, the attitude of the least educated or illitrate is so well that I feel humiliated for lacking this in myself and in so many educated ones I know.
    One of the reasons I understand for ignoring social sciences in our educational set up compare to other disciplines i.e. pure sciences, commerce, military education and economics, may be the former do not ensure employment and financial prosperity, which is the hallmark of the later ones. Anyway, the issue you have pointed out in your article is a point of reflection for all of us. Because all of us are seen raising the slogan of peace, prosperity, brotherhood, honesty and so on but do differently. There is a contradiction between what we say and what we do. I also do not believe establishing cadet colleges and valuing military education will lead us towards peace. I congratulate you and thank you once again for writing such a nice article.

    Thanks and regards,
    Karim Khan.

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