Education – A Shield Against Crime

Education – A Shield Against Crime
Image Credits: UNOPS

“School serves the same social functions as prisons and mental institutions-to define, classify, control, and regulate people”-Michael Foucault

In our school days, we had a classmate named Jamshed (a pseudonym), who had little interest in academics. In those times, corporal punishment was a norm, but even the teachers’ canings couldn’t motivate him to open his textbooks. It seemed that the constant scolding only fueled his aversion to studying.

As years passed, Jamshed’s path took a dark turn. He never managed to pass his matriculation exam, and gradually slipped into the shadows of the underworld. Initially, he dabbled in gambling, but soon was entangled in more serious criminal activities. Despite hailing from a respectable family, his life took a tragic trajectory.


In a grim twist of fate, Jamshed’s life came to a violent end when he was killed in a police encounter.

Jamshed’s journey from a carefree schoolboy to a notorious criminal serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities of life’s choices and consequences.

No wonder if he was a case of Hirchi’s social bond theory which suggests that individual is less likely to engage in criminal activities when they have strong attachments to family, school and work. His control theory assumes the bond of affection for the conventional person is a major deterrent to delinquency. The stronger this bond, the more likely the person is to take it in into account when and if he contemplates a criminal act.


I embarked on my career as an educationalist, drawn by an insatiable thirst for knowledge. My journey led me to the hallowed halls of the Philosophy Department at Karachi University. Despite the ridicule I faced for choosing what some deemed a peculiar subject, deep within, I treasured its essence-originating from the Greek words “philein sophia,” signifying a love for wisdom -an odyssey to comprehend the very essence of our being.

As I ventured into the world of policing, I endeavored to infuse the wisdom of philosophy into my every action. To some, I was the “philosopher cop,” perhaps uttered in jest, but I wore that moniker with pride.

Throughout my 33-year journey donning the police uniform, I crossed paths with countless individuals akin to Jamshed. Diverse in their origins, yet united by a shared trait—lack of education or education devoid of true enlightenment. For many, it served merely as a ticket to employment. But when the moment arrived to reveal their latent demons, they seized it without hesitation.


In the realm of crime, the education of the perpetrator may vary, painting unique circumstances.

I once encountered a peculiar case involving a highly educated woman, married to a scholarly man. She orchestrated a charade, claiming she was robbed by muggers after leaving an ATM. Skeptical of her story, I instructed the investigative team to dig deeper. To my dismay, the bitter truth emerged – it was a domestic dispute in disguise

Another incident involved a medical college student who swindled her parents’ jewelry. Blinded by ignorance, her parents hastily pointed fingers at their domestic servant, subjecting the poor maid to intense police scrutiny. However, the shocking revelation left the parents in embarrassment.

In the past few decades, our education system has plummeted into a deep abyss. The sole focus is on chasing grades, and even teachers’ progress hinges on how many of their student’s secure “A” grades. Parents too yearn for impressive results, leaving character development by the wayside.

Schools and colleges have become vulnerable hunting grounds for drug peddlers. Recently, the insidious scourge of crystal meth, popularly known as “Ice,” has seeped into our educational institutions, particularly in urban cities. Those ensnared by its grip, when funds run dry, resort to stealing from their parents or engaging in criminal activities.

drug peddlers

At this critical juncture, the response from the so-called “education wizard” is far from transformative; instead of providing therapy and guidance to mend juveniles behavior, they further cement their habits and hardens their path towards a life of crime, rather than breaking free from its grasp.

This alarming situation aligns with “differential association theory” of Sutherland who posits that criminal behavior is learned through association with others who engage in criminal activity, and the environment, in this case, our deteriorating schooling system, plays a pivotal role in this unfortunate transformation.

In a scenario of limited edification, the pathway to criminality often emerges as individuals face constrained options for legitimate employment. This susceptibility exposes them to manipulation by criminal influences, pushing them towards unlawful activities. In our case, the lack of tutoring has diminished skills, reduced social awareness, and a heightened likelihood of resorting to unlawful actions to fulfill basic needs.

Pakistan, a nation deeply rooted in religious fervor, sends a multitude of pilgrims to, and its generosity in alms and donations is renowned. Yet, paradoxically, it stands atop a perilous peak of crime, corruption, and injustice. It’s unbelievable how crime soars even during the holiest of months and times, with one major reason being that teaching is lamentably in a mess. A robust overhaul is imperative; otherwise, we risk being burdened with worthless degrees that hold no sway in the fiercely competitive global arena.


In nations that prioritize education and cherish human values, prisons often stand empty, for where there is no crime, jails have no purpose.

Countries like Norway and Denmark have transformed prisons into libraries and other beneficial institutions. Contrastingly, our confinement facilities overflow, and those who enter, leave as even more formidable, unyielding criminals.

If the government is genuinely committed to eradicating crime, it must prioritize and elevate the standard of education, recognizing its pivotal role. Currently, Pakistan’s public expenditure on education, at a mere 1.7 percent of GDP, stands as the lowest in the region. It is imperative to acknowledge that without access to quality education, or with inadequate educational opportunities, criminality tends to proliferate. This stark reality should serve as a compelling reason to stir our collective conscience and demand a fundamental shift in our approach to education and its vital connection to crime prevention.

Education stands as the unyielding antidote to the venom of crime, with law and policy serving as its watchful guardians. Rather than merely addressing the symptoms of criminality, we must embark on a transformative journey, nurturing an environment where knowledge flows freely, unburdened by the shackles of debt. I reiterate the strong connections to family, education, and work serve as an impenetrable shield against the siren call of criminality.


Let’s remember the chief challenge in any crime-afflicted community is not merely the punishment of criminals but, more crucially, the prevention of the young from being rapt by the allure of crime.

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Retired Pakistani police officer and Ph.D. in Politics with expertise in policy, governance, and societal issues

Dr. Syed Kaleem Imam

Retired Pakistani police officer and Ph.D. in Politics with expertise in policy, governance, and societal issues