A study of school textbooks of 22 Asian countries by UNESCO-Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEPSD), found that in most countries “chauvinistic curricular emphasis on moulding national identity” is posing a challenge to the idea of “global citizenship”.
The report, titled ‘Rethinking Schooling for The 21st Century: The State of Education for Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Asia’, had its India launch on Tuesday at the India International Centre in the national capital.
The report states, “In most countries surveyed, an intense and often chauvinistic curricular emphasis on moulding national identity poses an acute challenge to a vision of citizenship education based on ‘universal values’.”
It notes, “Curricula in many Asian countries uncritically endorse strongly ethno-nationalist identities, often effectively reducing minorities or migrants to second-class status. Narratives of foreign hostility or inferiority are widely used to bolster national loyalties.”
The report states that even in India “nationalist ideas take a militaristic tone in many provincial textbooks, particularly with reference to the wars that India has fought with Pakistan and China”.
Discussing the report, educationist Krishna Kumar said, “Global citizenship means that while you are a citizen of one country, you should worry about citizens of other countries as well, because they are also human beings. We found that curriculum policies and education documents across these countries are promoting heightened awareness of the importance of competitive nationalism, so that your country emerges on the top of the economic and military pile.”
The report also states that “concepts associated with gender equality, peace, and global citizenship were found to be widely absent from national education policy and curricular documents analysed, with some exceptions”.
It states, “Across all 22 countries and among more than 80 sub-categories included in the coding scheme, ‘nation as privileged referent of identity’ was found to be the most prevalent concept. This emphasis… points towards the challenge involved in reorienting education in Asia towards global citizenship. In contrast to the general emphasis on ‘human resource development,’ concepts related to economic sustainability… were either absent or rarely featured,” .
Kumar said “regimentation” is the “most common” phenomenon of education today, and students are simply being told what to do in order to clear tests and exams, rather than being taught to develop their analytical abilities.