Education in Pakistan: A historical socio-cultural perspective >> Part 1: Introduction

Today’s post is the first in a six-part series reviewing the historical and current context of education in Pakistan. These posts include:

  1. Introduction (this post)
  2. Ancient India – Hindu and Buddhist Influences
  3. Islamic Influences
  4. British Influences
  5. A Separate Nation
  6. Education in Present-Day Pakistan

Some of the information in this series is drawn from the book, “Going to School in South Asia” edited by Amita Gupta, interwoven with my own understandings of context, values, and beliefs in Pakistan.


Children at a school in Sindh, Pakistan. Copyright Sadaf Shallwani. All rights reserved.


Children develop within the contexts of their families, schools, and communities. But families, schools, and communities also evolve within broader socio-political contexts – which are shaped by innumerable historical and current, global and local influences.

We often don’t think about these contexts, and perhaps even take them for granted, when we talk about education, community development, early childhood development, parenting, and other such matters. But the fact is, these contexts completely shape all aspects of society and its systems, including people’s values, the ways in which we construct knowledge – of others and of ourselves, the ways in which communities interact, and specifically the ways in which children are raised, educated, and supported to become contributing citizens. A phenomenon cannot be understood without considering the historical and current contexts within which it is evolving.

It is with this understanding that I am working to more deeply understand education in Pakistan. Indeed, systems of education evolve in response to societal values and beliefs – for example, beliefs about the aim of education, ideas about characteristics that are valued and to be cultivated in children and in adults, beliefs about the roles of teachers and parents, and ideas about how education will be used.

Pakistan’s education system is influenced by local cultural, social, political, and economic factors, as well as the broader South Asian context and the global context. This includes the influences over many centuries of various Eastern and Western philosophies and worldviews. Eastern philosophies tend emphasizes faith, responsibility towards one’s family and community, and the veneration of elders (Gupta, 2007). Western influences have affected Pakistan historically through foreign invasions and rulers, and more recently through globalization and international development. These Western influences have included the separation of religion and morality from secular education, and the shift towards standardized curricula and assessments.

In my next few posts over the coming weeks,  I will review some of the historical and current contextual influences on education in Pakistan.

Next: In Ancient India, including Pakistan, Hindu/Vedic and Buddhist philosophies were fundamental in shaping perspectives on education. See my next post for a discussion of these influences on education in Pakistan.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Sadaf Shallwani


Gupta, A. (2007). Introduction: Culture, curriculum, and points of intersection. In A. Gupta (Ed.), Going to School in South Asia (pp. 1-13), Westport, CT: Greenwood.

See related posts: 

13 thoughts on “Education in Pakistan: A historical socio-cultural perspective >> Part 1: Introduction

  1. Thanks Sadaf. The introduction part of the post shows some resembles of history to that of East Africa more so Kenya. Children and education development influenced by history of Arab traders, Asian and europeans

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Atrash. In my coming posts I’ll be exploring some of the Islamic influences as well as the British colonization. I imagine there will be many commonalities with Kenya and other countries as well.

  2. Reblogged this on hannahquinn2013 and commented:
    It is so interesting to see how education is approached in other countries. I think it is extremely valuable and important for me, as a student teacher, to find out about other cultures and see how learning and teaching takes place.

  3. Hi Sadaf … I am finding this topic extremely interesting. Currently in my 2nd year of my teaching degree and current unit of child and adolescent development. I am enjoying the readings of your posts as I am looking to show the socio-cultural influences in this area. I am more so focussing on the story of Malala Yousafzai. I am trying to link in the developmental theories and learning development as well ! If you had any recommendations towards this I would be happy to hear 🙂 thankyou !

    • Hi Chloe!

      So glad to hear you’re finding these posts interesting. If you’re intrigued by socio-cultural influences on child development, here are some scholars you might want to read: Barbara Rogoff, Marilyn Fleer, and Cigdem Kagitscibasi. To get deeper into socio-cultural influences on how we research / study / conceptualize child development, check out works written by Erica Burman, Helen Penn, Gaile Cannella, Radhika Viruru, Peter Moss, and many others… More thoughts here:

      Thanks and good luck with your degree!


  4. hello sadaf I read your reading and found it really useful in my studies. I m interested in cultural influence on curriculum in Pakistan. if you have further readings please post me or send there addresses I will try to access them.

    • Hello Naheed,

      I’m glad you have found these posts useful. I highly recommend Amita Gupta’s book “Going to School in South Asia” (referenced above) – she and the other authors in the book provide a very thorough discussion of historical socio-cultural influences on education in Pakistan.

      All the best in your studies!


  5. Hello Sadaf

    I’m doing a thesis on school readiness in Pakistan. its a very basic, small scale qualitative study. and your work has provided me with much statistics and information about Pakistan. Thanks a lot!

  6. Hi dear today is my first time to read ur work i am a student of Education , i am really happy to read i may need more information about education in Pakistan .

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