The medium of instruction during the early stages of education has been a long-debated issue around the world. Pakistan is no exception to this. Nationally, there are scholars who are staunch supporters of teaching and learning in the mother tongue. They have put in considerable effort to promote mother tongue-based teaching and learning. The language used by teachers during classes has an impact on the learning process of students. According to the various studies, it is now an established fact that students learn and perform far better when they are taught in their first language. There is a consensus amongst researchers that when students are taught in languages other than their mother tongue, they are more likely to fail.
Research has also highlighted that teaching in a second language or foreign language is no less than encouraging and pushing students for rote learning. To validate this finding, the Citizens Foundation conducted an experiment. A student from an early stage of learning was asked to read his name in English that was already written on the blackboard. The boy spelled it slowly, cautiously, letter by letter, and pronounced his name loud and clear afterwards. However, when some of the letters were removed, he was unable to read it. This was a case of rote learning. Unesco has found that the dropout rate is higher in regions where the medium of teaching is not the first language of learners. Moreover, Unesco also highlights that when students are taught in a foreign language, they fail to participate in classroom conversations, classes become teacher-centric, and students fall prey to inferiority complex.
Therefore, it is imperative to consider this issue and ensure that teaching in mother-tongue is encouraged. If this is not taken into serious consideration when implementing the Single National Curriculum, it will defeat its purpose and students will continue to underperform. The relevant authorities must implement policies to address this at their earliest.
Kashif Rafique Koondhar
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2021.