What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Madrasa reading day extended

So, as I planned yesterday, I read ICG's studies on the Pakistani education system (I won't link to them directly, since for you to download them, firstly registration will be required - most of you may know this of course).
For starters, I'll insert here two excerpts about the state of education in Pakistan in general, from the paper titled "Pakistan: Reforming the education sector," from October, 2004.
On ghost schools (p. 21.):
"The widespread phenomenon of non-functional, even non-existent "ghost" schools and teachers that exist only on paper but eat into a limited budget is an indication of the level of corruption in this sector. Provincial education departments have insufficient resources and personnel to monitor effectively and clamp down on rampant bribery and manipulation at the local level."
On run-down, or perhaps never ever in the past fully equipped and well-provisioned, schools (p. 9.):
"A recent study conducted by the Sindh Department of Education, for example, found that out of roughly 40,000 primary schools in the province, over 11,000 had no electricity, over 8,500 no water supply, over 11,000 no toilet facilities and boundary walls."
So from that you might guess that macro-level indicators are not good, either. Low enrolment, high drop-out rate, adult illiteracy, urban/rural disparities, gender disparities - the general picture of 2004 is presented in the paper comprehensively.
Regarding madaras, there's another study (from 2002), "Pakistan: Madrasas, extremism and the military." As expected, it did yield several new important pieces of information to me.
- While Christine Fair made the point in a study of hers which I quoted yesterday, that it's not so simple that the madaras are schools for the poor, in fact there's the major difference between poor and rich families' kids that even when the latter are sent to a madrasa, those kids will tend to be only day students.
- While it is tempting to think of Zia ul-Haq as the chief original Islamiser of Pakistan, ICG's historical overview shows how religious education and Islamist forces got a significant boost already under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the 1970s. So if one is careful not to blame it all on madaras in the GWOT, it's also important not to blame everything in Pakistan on past deeds of Pakistan's military. Even if their meddling was of course significant back in that period of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's elected premiership, too.
- While it would be tempting to look at the relationship of Pakistan's security sector (army, ISI etc.) with Islamists as one that is purely instrumental, with the two actors clearly separated, even if their cooperation is cause for concern, in fact the dividing line is more blurred. A notable excerpt for a relevant example, based on an ICG interviewee's answer (p. 9.):
" (...) bias was evident in recruitment of khateebs (preachers) in the military. Each of the three armed services has a Directorate of Motivation, which recruits religious professionals to lead prayers and give sermons. "The students of Deobandi madrasas were favoured over the Barelvis in the recruitment process under Zia and that trend is still visible." "
As it shows, the military in fact re-programmed itself a little over the years. This has never been only an instrumental relationship. And that self-reprogramming took use of Deobandi influence, not just any kind of Islamic influence, mostly.
- The paper also looks back at the origins of the Deobandi movement and the history of madrasa-based religious education by the way, so it might be worth reading for those not acquainted with those issues yet, for that reason, too.
Overall, to come to a more refined assessment of the role of madaras, one has to remember that (p. 12.):
"All sectarian parties banned by the Musharraf government – including the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JM), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Tayaba (LeT), Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammedi (TNSM), and Sipah-e-Mohammed – either originated at jihadi madrasas or developed their own chains."
And just one more little detail then, finally. (It's always worth reading the footnotes! This excerpt below is from footnote no.6a on p. 2. That's a special footnote, because it was added only after the original date of publishing of July, 2002, after a correction in footnote no.6 was necessary. And so it is from 2005, and includes some data from 2003.)
"According to the Pakistan Ministry of Education's 2003 directory, madrasa numbers grew from 6,996 in 2001 to 10,430."
You see, that was after 9/11 and the Afghanistan intervention.

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