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Federal Government recently announced to shutdown all the educational institutions because of a raging pandemic, unfortunately online educational system wont be helpful either. But it would be unfair to say that our education system is only lacking because of the pandemic. To define the concept of Pakistan’s education system, Plato’s allegory of the cave and prisoners is absolutely accurate.

Many philosopher have elaborated the concept of Education but Plato has used the most impressive analogy and language to define how education system works.

Plato in his book Republic plots a scene that,

Imagine there’s a cave in which there are some prisoners handcuffed, tied up with rocks and shackled legs and  neck. They can not move or even turn their heads in any direction, all they can see is a wall in front of them.

These prisoners spend their whole life in the cave thus their understanding of the world is limited to the vicinity of the cave.  There is a  fire behind them. Afar lies a walkway where people from outside of the cave walk along while carrying things on their head including; animals, plants, woods and stone. The prisoners are only able to  see the shadows of those people and objects casting on to the wall. So when these walkaways continue to pass by the cave these prisoners guess how would they look?

One day one of the prisoners got a chance to liberate himself somehow. When he got rid of the chains and shackles he looked around to see the surroundings for the first time. That small fire made his eye ache but he surpassed the pain. He stepped out of the cave and was startled by the view. Sunlight, flowers, animals everything was new to him but he enjoyed it. It seems like he entered another realm. It was a shocker to him that what he  knew so far was all wrong.

He could feel his reality getting shattered. This sense of revelation made him realize that he needed to liberate other prisoners too. He wanted them to witness the reality of the outer world which had not been witnessed before. On returning to the cave he came to know that other prisoners are not interested in getting out of their comfort zone, they have made peace with their fate.  He urged them to go outside and see the outer world for themselves. But his effort all failed as other prisoners threatened to kill him if he tried to break their chains.

Our Education System:

Our education system is just the same. We are prisoners (students), fire (education system), syllabus (shadows). We were told that Muhammad bin Qasim as hero like the prisoners we accepted. We were told that Quaid-e-Azam was born in Karachi like the prisoners we accepted. We were told that the Pakistan resolution was passed on 23 March like the prisoners we accepted. We were told that Mahmud Ghaznavi is undefeated and filled with love towards Islam and he must be the ideal of Muslims like the prisoners we accepted, there are so many other example too. But someday someone gets liberated from this reality and tries to bring liberty for his fellow prisoners too, but what we

prisoners do. Just like the prisoners of Plato’s plot we start threatening to kill him if he tries to free us but if a warm-hearted person with his valor and courage gives liberty to us we kill him or his thoughts and wear shackles again and cuffs ourselves with our thoughts, beliefs and biases and the cycle goes.

But the question is for how long ?

When and How do prisoners get their liberty ?


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