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‘Liberalising education allows us to live and let live’

By Zoya Anwer
January 19, 2019

Stressing on the form of education that leads to questioning instead of restricting the thought process of students, Prof Dibyesh Anand addressed a lecture at the Habib University on Thursday.

Titled ‘Challenging prejudices, liberalising education, humanising life’, the public lecture threw light on the need to reshape the current education system that focuses on the need to find the right answers instead of multiple questions.

Giving the example of punctuations, Anand said the full stop denotes fascism owing to the unquestionable approach, but the question mark is what represents the role of education, because students need to be taught to question all forms of authority.

He added that the exclamation mark is also an important symbol because it denotes excitement, which the teachers need to feel about their work. Regarding his experiences, Anand spoke about the identity conundrum that one experiences when the coloniser’s language, which is English in the case of Pakistan and India, is associated with knowledge, while those using their own languages are dubbed as uncouth.

He said his research on Tibet led to many remarks because of this impression that only white people have the freedom to conduct research on anything. “Academics have their own prejudices, but we’re good at hiding it, and it’s connected to white privilege as to how white Europeans or Americans can do research on everything, but as a brown person one can’t claim to be an expert on Western imagination.

“Political dominance is directly connected to knowledge formation, and in my own way I was trying to challenge that.... Post-colonial scholarship largely ignores non-Western colonisation.” Anand pointed out that while Asians often protest against racism, they too are not behind when it comes to having prejudices about skin colour with regard to the people in many African countries.

“The role of education is not only to provide skills and answers or the ability to negotiate, but also the ability to convert, which requires the ability to think. “If you want to transform those around you, it’s important to understand that education is not just about skills, but rather about developing critical thinking.”

Coming to the idea of liberalising education, Anand said it does not mean an end to public institutions, but rather that ideal education needs to be public.

“Liberalising education is a form of education that allows us to live and let live; someone who recognises a difference and respects it despite not agreeing with it. If education perpetrates and perpetuates prejudices that exist in society with regard to one being inferior to another, it is mal-education.”

Anand said that humanising life means giving respect to all human beings and questioning the kind of practices that dehumanise through caste, religion, sect or class.