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Cultural discrimination at education institutions

One of the main issues that is affecting the social, political, economic, geographical and educational career of learners is cultural discrimination.

Cultural discrimination has been often identified as a barrier that affects the treatment and ultimately the success of learners in educational institutions. Culture discrimination results from social stereotyping and leads to poor communication and interpersonal relationships.

The culture is defined as the system of beliefs, values, customs, behaviour and artefacts that the members of a society use to cope with their world and with one another. It is transmitted from generation to generation through learning, so the discrimination in such traditional values create conflicts among human beings and makes them mentally weak.

Cultural discrimination produces immense effects in psychological, political and social domains. The effects are compounded by the loss of self worth, a sense of alienation from wider society, political disempowerment and economic inequalities.

Discrimination runs against the fundamental values of a modern society. Cultural discrimination leads toward a process of thought where only a limited source of ideas and thoughts emerge that confine the individual only to certain norms and values.

However, such a narrow process of thought brings the idea of ethnocentrism that is the tendency to evaluate the values, beliefs and behaviours of one’s own culture as being more positive and logical than those of other cultures. It is the belief that convinces one to consider his culture the best in every way. This can lead to negative judgments of the behaviour of groups or societies and makes the people discriminate with others.

Whether you are a Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun or Panjabi, or in a broader sense, whether Eastern or Western, every one of them has different life styles but each one is valid in their own sense. Nobody has the right to impose its own values on others as better. There is no valid concept of civilization or savagery in cultural sense.

According to the concept of culture relativism, all cultures are equally important and valuable. Cultural relativity helps understand other cultures and their practices without thinking that they are inferior or backward, because each culture is unique in itself.

No one is barbarous or uncivilized if they are following their cultural ceremonies and festivals; those festivals and ceremonies might include elements that are not acceptable by other cultures. They might be regarded as uncivilized by outsiders but they are valid to the people of that culture. Nobody has the right to call them uncivilized or barbarous. The good and bad do not exist in things but their meaning lies within the mind. As Shakespeare says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.

It is the thoughts and imagination of human beings that develop meanings. The meaning does not lie in objects but within individuals who interpret and find meaning. Hence, the concept of civilization or savagery lies within a person’s mind. They see it with the glasses of their own norms and values. If something is prohibited in one culture that might be accepted in other cultures.

Nigerian writer and critic Chinua Achebe writes in his masterpiece novel Things Fall Apart“How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad.”

It means that every culture is valid with its own norms and values and no one can judge other cultures according to their own values.

None of the culture is inferior to the other. This concept of culture inferiority has made the individual feel confined to certain values. In this way, emerging learners will not be able to get what they are supposed to in this world, because the learning process includes all those refining elements within the age that need to be understood by every individual.

 

About Farah Naz Baloch

Farah Naz Baloch, who hails from Balochistan's Panjgur district, is doing a Masters in English Literature at the University of Karachi.

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