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Critical consciousness through Education

 Dr Qaswar Abbas

(How can we get rid of Banking Concept of Education)

HOLISTIC development of a society is considered to be directly linked with higher education of the country. There have been certain educational models followed by different universities of the world. Some of such models had been elaborated by eminent historian Dr Tahir Kamran in his series of columns entitled ‘The idea of a University’ published in ‘The News on Sunday’. It was an interesting series of columns and the initiative taken by Dr. Kamran was commendable. Today, more than ever, we need to explore and investigate different aspects of higher education of our country. Unfortunately, none of these models is introduced in our universities and other higher educational institutions. What is being acted upon in our country, like other third world countries, is the ‘Banking Concept of education’. This concept was unearthed by Brazilian educationist, Paulo Freire (19211997). he was author of some groundbreaking works in the field of education e.g. ‘education for Critical Consciousness’, ‘The Politics of education’ and ‘Pedagogy of the oppressed’. his works on pedagogy makes him a pioneer and ideologist in the education field. according to Freire’s concept, Students are falsely considered to be empty vessels that must be filled with some type of passive information. In this view, teacher is assumed to be a depositor and a student as a receptor. role of the teacher is to talk and that of the pupil is to listen meekly. Ultimately, the teacher is the Subject of the learning process while the students are mere objects.
Banking concept of education instead of making students, creators and producers of knowledge, helps them to become passive consumers of information. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness and resultantly their creative power is perished by their own teachers. In Pakistan, not only at school level but also in colleges and universities, education is being delivered under the foresaid paradigm. actually, Paulo Freire was a big critic of this type of approach in the education field. he spent most of his early career to introduce a systematic pedagogy in the western world. as he familiarized a classroom where teachers and students had equal power and equal dignity, his work has emerged as a model for educationists and policy makers around the world. Freire, no doubt, has a profound influence on the teachers and educationists of the later time. heC Pakistan also needs some visionary educationists who may follow and introduce the best models of education in our academic institutions. a valuable book ‘education Policies in Pakistan’ authored by a wellknown educationist Dr Shahid Siddiqui, has come to the market last year. It is an attempt to critically study and evaluate the education Policies in Pakistan from 1947 to the current years.

This is the first full-length critical study of educational strategies in Pakistan. After going through the book, my perception is that our education policy makers mostly have been trying to expand the education system quantitatively to meet with the literacy rate of the country. Although in some policy documents stress was made for the quality along with the quantity of education, yet creation of critical consciousness among students have never been stated as the main aim of national education policy.

From 1947 to date, round about 10 National Education Policies have been formulated and implemented in the country but none of them fully achieved their set targets within the deadlines. We need some visionary educationists like Paulo Freire to update the motto of our national education from ‘Education for all’ to ‘Free and quality education for all’ and ‘education for critical consciousness’. Now once again there is a dire need to launch a sound ‘national education policy’ to face the educational challenges of the day. So, it is right time to get rid of banking concept of education to create a holistic critical consciousness among the youth.

Today our classrooms are unable to develop the critical and analytical thought among the students and all this is due to dull and outdated teaching techniques practiced in Pakistan. ‘This system can only produce students who are very good at memorizing and reproducing what they have been told’. The teachers, instead of motivating the students to ask questions, suppress their thinking capability by enforcing their personal views. It is in vain to expect originality and creativity from them until we follow ‘antidialogical’ theory. We strictly need to practice the ‘dialogical’ approach in our universities. Because, the former aims to suppress critical apprehension of reality while the latter helps the discovery of reality through critical thought and free communication.

In Freire’s viewpoint, all those (policy makers, administrators and teachers etc.) who support the banking approach of education or want to maintain this type of Status quo, are named as suppressors while the victim students are called suppressed. In Pakistan a very limited segment of population has access to higher education and, no doubt, a large number of them would be placed in the suppressed category.

After seven decades of the establishment of our homeland, if we want to get rid of ‘the curse of banking concept of education’ our higher authorities sitting in Ministry of Education and HEC will have to take revolutionary proceedings in this regard.

The author is a teacher based in Islamabad and he can be reached at: qaswaralvi@gmail.com

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