Education and Nation Building

This SIS 640 class is mostly made up of graduate students in the International Communication program. Here is a confession: I am not a student in that program. I came to AU to get my masters in International Education and Training so many of the topics covered in class are seen by me through a cultural lens (previous education) or an educational lens.

This week we talked about Nation Building and how communication relates to it. Yet I could not stop thinking about how often the readings have already mentioned that education and schools are an important marker of a culture. Schooling is an important aspect of nation building and in building a common identity/philosophy. Education through schooling instills a certain system of beliefs, of values, of truths, a notion of friend and foe. I specifically mention schools because there is a lot of education going on in the private sphere (e.g. the home) that is difficult for a nation/government to grasp and manipulate.

Curricula are set by the government or by institutions acting on its behalf. In this regard it is the government that decides how it wants its national identity portrayed and taught in the classroom. Markers for national identity (such as flags, a certain type of vocabulary, iconic images, classroom behavior) are part of the classroom and the teachings. That is why the teaching of Western educators in Third World countries (starting in a more organized way as soon as colonialization sprung up) was often received by the indigenous communities as an attempt to impose Western values.

Thus, for the nation building process schools, as a mean for education, are essential.

By Franzi