The language of education

There have been voices calling to teach in local languages, but the issue is far more complex than it seems

Manzoor Ali Shah January 07, 2011
The debate surrounding language has long dominated the Pakistani education system. Since the creation of Pakistan, the issue of language has been shaping politics. In fact, the dismemberment of our country can trace its roots back to this problem.

There have always been voices calling to teach curriculums in local languages, but the issue is of a more complex nature than it seems given the fact that Pakistan is a multilingual society where at least 69 languages are spoken. Of these around 30 are spoken just in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

If we look at the current situation of basic education in our country, an interesting picture emerges. Most Pakistani children go to government schools, where Urdu and English are taught at primary levels. At provincial levels Balochi, Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashto are also taught.

Government schools also include Arabic as a subject from class VI to VIII whereas in XI and X it is optional.

Both Urdu and English are not the mother tongues of the majority of students. In fact, most students haven’t even heard a word of English before they join school.

On the other hand, a chunk of the population goes to all English public schools, while another goes to seminaries where only Arabic is taught.

Government institutions have also adopted English as a mode of instruction after secondary levels. English is also the official language of the country as all court proceedings and official correspondence are in English.

At the end of the day, what we are left with is an incredible mish-mash of graduates from different schools resulting in a more polarised nation. They share little, have conflicting worldviews and contradicting ideologies.

Education as a political institution endeavours to form habits and to circumscribe knowledge in a way to make a set of opinions inevitable.

Education is pertinent to invent and evolve in the fields of art and science, and, not to mention, to stabilise a country.

In this regard, Pakistan’s education system miserably falls short as neither does it create progression nor citizens who stand united.
Manzoor Ali Shah A reporter for The Express Tribune.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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