Urdu language instruction causes grievances, says UNESCO report

Published: February 21, 2016


Urdu being the language of instruction in government schools has contributed to grievances and political tensions in Pakistan, a new UNESCO report released on Friday said.

“In Pakistan, the continued use of Urdu as the language of instruction in government schools, even though it is spoken at home by less than 8% of the population, has also contributed to political tensions,” the report said.

Linguistic diversity: State urged to promote all Pakistani languages

The paper by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) added that the adoption of Urdu as the national language after independence had been a source of alienation in a country that is home to six major linguistic groups and 58 smaller ones.

“The failure to recognise Bengali, spoken by the vast majority of the population in East Pakistan, was one of the major sources of conflict within the new country, leading to student riots in 1952. The riots gave birth to the Bengali Language Movement, a precursor to the movement that fought for the secession of East Pakistan and the creation of a new country, Bangladesh,” the paper stated.

Even in Bangladesh, where Bengali is the national language, non-Bengali speaking tribal groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have cited a perceived injustice over language as a factor that justifies their secession demands, according to the report.

Lack of preservation causing regional languages to die a slow death

The paper titled ‘If you don’t understand, how can you learn?’ released for International Mother Language Day (February 21)’ added that 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they understand.

The report argued that being taught in a language other than their own can negatively impact children’s learning, especially for those living in poverty.

“In multi-ethnic societies, including Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guatemala, the paper shows that imposing a dominant language through a school system – while sometimes a choice of necessity – has frequently been a source of grievance linked to wider issues of social and cultural inequality.”

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Ih
    Feb 21, 2016 - 5:43PM

    A language which alienated most provinces , has no commercial , scientific ,religious heritage . Get rid of it Replace with regional languages and Engisk as medium of instruction . Nation will be better served.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Feb 21, 2016 - 6:22PM

    Very true. Pakistani Punjabis are the only people on this planet who are not taught in their mother tongue.Recommend

  • Baloch
    Feb 21, 2016 - 7:02PM

    Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and is understood and spoken by 90% Pakistanis. It is the glue that linguistically holds Pakistan together and allows the different linguistic groups to understand one another. It is Pakistan’s lingua france. Mind your own business UNESCO.Recommend

  • Feb 21, 2016 - 8:30PM

    Better to teach Urdu as a subject not as a medium of instruction for Math, Biology, Chemsitry, Physics. Recommend

  • abreez
    Feb 21, 2016 - 9:18PM

    Ok then Pakistan should chose No. 1 language from top ten languages of the world.
    1. Chinese 1,197,000,000
    2. Spanish 414,000,000
    3. English 335,000,000
    4. Hindi 260,000,000
    5. Arabic 237,000,000
    6. Portuguese 203,000,000
    7. Bengali 193,000,000
    8. Russian 167,000,000
    9. Japanese 122,000,000
    10. Javanese 84,300,000Recommend

  • vinsin
    Feb 21, 2016 - 9:42PM

    What about TNT?Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Feb 21, 2016 - 10:37PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    You best hire some Sikh tutors !Recommend

  • Shahid
    Feb 21, 2016 - 11:19PM

    Vey Destructive and ill intented report. Do we want to divide the country into four independent countries or 58 indepenent countries.If there is no Urdu how would a Pathan talk to sindhi or vice versaRecommend

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