University Of Tasmania

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Unity in diversity? The representation of ethnic diversity in Pakistani textbooks and through teacher and student perspectives

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:06 authored by Rehana Kousar, Peter BrettPeter Brett
Ethnic diversity in Pakistan encompasses linguistic, religious, tribal, and regional differences. This article examines some of the narratives around ethnic diversity in upper secondary school textbooks, the challenges of providing inclusive opportunities for diverse groups within Pakistan faced by citizenship educators and learners’ perceptions of the representation of ethnic diversity. The article draws on Civics and Pakistan Studies textbooks, focus group interviews with sixteen students and semi-structured interviews with sixteen teachers from eight schools and colleges in Punjab, Pakistan. Both the textbooks and the interviews are analyzed through the lens of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Key messages about citizenship from Pakistani textbooks are brought into dialogue with data gathered from interviews with Pakistani teachers and students to illuminate contrasting perspectives on the representation of Pakistani ethnic diversity. Findings indicate that the textbooks used in schools represent a view of Pakistan as a homogeneous country united by its distinctive Islamic foundation and its national language. They also project an image of Pakistan attempting to offer an inclusive embrace to those of other languages and religions within the borders of the Pakistani nation. The article concludes with some reflections on the challenges of developing students’ civic knowledge and understanding about multidimensional identity in Pakistan, given the limited and idealized treatment of ethnic diversity in the analyzed texts.


Publication title

The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities








Faculty of Education


Common Ground Research Networks

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

© Common Ground Research Networks, Rehana Kousar, Peter Brett,

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Teaching and curriculum not elsewhere classified