[OPINION] White Man’s Burden, Cultural Influence on the Eastern societies through Education | Rameez Ali Jerov | PassuTimes

“An industrial society can never give you a human being, they create products”.

Generally, Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research.

The world is so vast and the population is scattered and widespread. Some may live and communicate together directly some may not. Different people have manufactured their own standards of livelihood and modified their ways of survival, to learn from nature, to teach, to experience, to innovate, to generate and to understand one another which became the traditions of societies.

Suddenly the catastrophic changes have seen everywhere when the industrial revolution burst out in western hemisphere and has started to lead societies of entire world. The sense of competitiveness of same living standards were escalated. Naturally people are greedy, capitalism catalysed the greediness and individualism. The vulnerable traditional societies of East as well as the West were started to fall as dominos everywhere under the influence of western dominance.

The early Cold War philosophy “The White Man’s Burden” made white people (particularly white Americans and Britain) are responsible to flourish number of attributes i.e. humanity, culture, norms, driven ways of life etc. around the world. And remained successful in implementing over marginal parts of the world. The sequel of this philosophy is “White Man’s Last Burden” has started to escalate. Western education has grown over the last few centuries particularly after the rise of industrial revolution. As Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar said “this western education is not to create human beings fully equipped to deal with life and all its problems, independent citizens able to exercise their decisions and live their responsibility in community but elements to feed into an industrial production system. They were products with partial knowledge. We moved from wisdom to knowledge and now we are moving from knowledge to information and that information is so partial so that we are creating incomplete human being”.

Society of Pakistan and particularly Gilgit-Baltistan GB, is an agrarian society where people exercising millenniums old philosophies and techniques to produce and consume. Though this is informal according to western education system. The indigenous knowledge is washed-out now with rise of innovation, and globalization accelerates it. Economic surveillance fashioned competitiveness among people to people, group to group and even nation to nation, that dilute conventional accustomed derivatives of knowledge and compelled to adapt western dominated way of industrial knowledge based education. Which is an imperialism in on sense. The way people now being taught has contradiction with respect to certain traditions and norms of society. Non State Actors, NGOs, IGOs and other MNCs are penetrating into different societies and compelled them to change, as they doing in the 3rd world nations. Pakistan is now changing into industrial society from once it was agrarian. Prior to arrival of British in the state of formal education all over Subcontinent was unclear, which literally was not a country it was a territory ruled by dozens of Kings, Rajahs, Princes, Nawabs. These performed some of the functions of State. They all followed different religions, philosophies with competing interests and ideas. Society was mostly agrarian without much industrialization. What industry did exist would be cottage industries with little or no mass production. Without a system of general, vocational or professional education nearly all tradesmen learned the trade in their families such as Dhobis, tailors, lohar, weavers, goldsmiths, cooks, and so on. The term development has torn the indigenous communities apart.

Hierarchy of issues we have been seeing since the independence. In education system, students in Ladakh are being forced to pray “The Lord’s Prayer” though they are traditionally a Buddhist society and same in GB students are forced to teach the things which are not in accordance to the culture, terrain, climate or faith. Why should they be forced to learn something that is not a part of their culture, and not necessarily something they believe? They shouldn’t, but because the West has the power and means to educate and influence, those on the receiving end are subject to the creator’s perspectives. Education increases the value of economy and devaluing core aspects of culture which ultimately affects the sustainable development of society.

Due to inappropriate education system in accordance to our culture, climate, livelihood and the social schema several major issues can be seen in our society.

  • Declining of spiritual relationship with land, at the heart of this deep bond is a perception, an awareness, that all of life – mountains, rivers, skies, animals, plants, insects, rocks, people – are inseparably interconnected. Material and spiritual worlds are woven together in one complex web, all living things imbued with a sacred meaning. This living sense of connectedness that grounds indigenous peoples in the soil has all but disappeared among city dwellers – the cause of much modern alienation and despair.
  • Lack of sustainable resource management. However, the industrial world is facing an ecological crisis. Yet these traditional ways of life have proved highly durable. Traditional societies use their intimate knowledge of plants, soil, animals, climate and seasons not to exploit nature but to co-exist alongside it.
  • Lack of sustainable social relationship or lack of cohesion, gathering, mutual support and co-operation.

Indigenous Knowledge is inextricably linked to global sustainability, it has his own customary laws to protect and divide natural resources also terms of conservation which is widely encouraged and valued in our societies till now. Our planet is facing ecological crises as a result of globalization. Traditional knowledge has valuable insights to implementing efficient uses of our land and spiritual relationships with nature. Educators can implement many of these insights into teaching practice.

Consequently traditional knowledge and western information can be taught together. Teaching our students to be responsible and economical with our natural resources, conservation of resources, and learning about sustainability and to minimize our ecological footprints. Aboriginal and Western philosophies, beliefs, and spirituality do not need to be taught in opposition, or in isolation. It is only when we can teach our students to understand themselves and the world around them, that we can create true empathy, understanding, and hope for the future of our planet.

Rameez Ali Jerov
Writer is student of International Relations in Karakorum International University Gilgit. Can be reached at rameez.jerov@gmail.com

Co-Author: Anny Saeed.
Co-author is student of Behavioural Sciences in Karakorum International University Gilgit,

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