Community Cohesion and the Role of Education in Pakistan and Bangladesh
The article contrasts how the concept of community cohesion is viewed in Pakistan and Bangladesh and explores if community cohesion can be improved through education. The argument is developed in light of the increasing number of international development programmes that aim to increase community ohesion in developing countries through targeted education programmes. The research was conducted between 2011 and 2012 in 38 schools in both countries that were part of a schools network programme aiming to foster community cohesion. The research found that in Pakistan religious and ethnic differences between communities are recognised but that the education system – public or private does little or nothing to address these. Class and gender differences seem to play less of a role and religion is widely seen as the biggest faultline. It seems however that the more homogenous community, the more difficult it is to
address issues of difference and tolerance, as the minorities seem to prefer to remain invisible. Education programmes targeted at improving community elations in and between schools seem to have had an important impact in the schools visited, especially in heterogeneous settings. In contrast, in Bangladesh religious and ethnic differences in society are not acknowledged and, therefore, the education system does not deal with differences between communities at all. Socially only class and gender differences are recognised. In such a situation, the concept of community cohesion cannot be fully understood and propagated,
even with the help of international programmes.
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