We want to challenge a state-driven homogenization of Pakistani identity in school curriculum with a free downloadable, interactive history textbook that is more truthfully representative of Pakistan’s internal religious, ethnic, and regional diversity.
This project continues Hashiya’s ethos of broadening horizons for a primarily Urdu-literate audience forward by seeking to engage middle-school students across Pakistan through an alternative, interactive, electronic textbook that revolutionizes core elements of official history education which is mired in erasing a multitude of Pakistani voices and realities from its presentation of the Pakistani past. These elements have been identified through a survey of extant textbooks in circulation for middle school students, but also through academic critiques of what prejudiced and militaristic subtexts textbook history education in Pakistan has been found guilty of perpetuating.
As such, our objective is to consolidate a range of thematic material around and beyond the existing curriculum and provide a supplement for school networks and teachers to deploy in the classroom. Organized into units and developed through a research process that involves specialized reading and interviews with educators and curriculum specialists alike, this textbook will complicate the conception of Pakistani identity, and widen the range of pasts explored in classrooms to beyond those of Urdu-speaking and connected Muslim populations in what is now northern India – identified as the core locale and context of most Pakistani history curricula.
Our textbook will privilege histories and pasts hitherto marginalised, expanding and diversifying the visions of Pakistan formed by the history education of young students in the country. This is how we challenge a state-driven homogenization of Pakistani identity through the curriculum, exacerbated by recent policy measures such as the so-called Single National Curriculum, and attempt to weave in voices from the peripheries into a history textbook that is more truthfully representative of Pakistan’s internal religious, ethnic, and regional diversity. In doing so, we identify and seek to remedy a violence of erasure.
By publishing this textbook electronically and making it free to download, we hope that teachers, students, and parents interested in history education will find our materials easy to access. Moreover, by relying on Shehri Pakistan’s core animation and illustration team of artists and designers, we hope to create a resource that much like the audio-visual and text-based resources produced by our organisation during previous funding cycles, is bolstered by a storytelling that is both aesthetically pleasing and narratively coherent for our young audience.
Within this design process, we hope to make many aspects of our textbook interactive; for instance, clicking on bolded text could cause a pop-out text and visual of a more expanded significance of the historical personality or moment in question, while textured strips can hide the answers to unit end quizzes, peeling off with a click, to icons for thought-exercises featured in each unit to engage young minds. The intensity with which these interactive features will be littered throughout the textbook will be determined in close conversation with the educators most familiar with our young target audience.
“Our focus should be history teaching through the people, their land, stories, and cultural practices. It should not just be about imparting content and cognitive skills to young minds, but about fostering empathetic and emotive engagement. And as such our job is not to merely think as academicians and historians, but as communicators and curators.”
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Hashiya is an alternative histories project with the goal of creating accessible audio-visual critical thinking and educational material in Urdu and English…Read more