Days after Beaconhouse School System received backlash for issuing a notice against using ‘Punjabi and foul language’ in school, the administration has clarified its point of view, terming the controversy a misunderstanding.
It all started when a Beaconhouse school in Sahiwal (Punjab) issued a notice asking its students to refrain from using ‘foul language including abuses, taunts, Punjabi and the hate speech.’
Following the controversial notice, the school authority was heavily censured for the measure as Punjabi is one of the most spoken languages in the country. However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the school clarified that the word ‘curses’ was to follow the word 'Punjabi' in the circular.
Unity or uniformity?
The communique read: "The above confusion stems from a circular issued in August on the letterhead of Beaconhouse School System, Sahiwal, which stated, verbatim: "Foul language is NOT ALLOWED within and outside the school premises, in the morning, during the school hours and after home time. Foul language includes taunts, abuses, Punjabi [curses] and the hate speech." (The operative word in brackets, “curses”, was unfortunately missed in the circular.)”
The Beaconhouse administration said that it was deeply embarrassed by the omission of the word ‘curses’, terming it as miscommunication on part of the writer, which changed the meaning of the circular and caused a controversy.
“Our headmaster in Sahiwal, Mr Jamil Ahmed, was attempting to advise students to refrain from using foul language in Punjabi. Instead of writing “Punjabi curses” or “foul language in Punjabi” (or otherwise changing his sentence structure), he merely wrote “Punjabi”. He was trying to avoid writing the word “curses” and was clearly unaware of the actual meaning of his sentence – minus that word,” it added.
Mind your language
The management also clarified that the controversial circular was not sent by the school’s head office as in that case it would have been distributed to each and every branch in the country.
“Contrary to reports in certain sections of the media, Mr Jamil Ahmed, did not say that the circular or its contents came from the “Head Office”. Had this been the case, it would have been distributed at every branch of Beaconhouse across Pakistan, or in the Punjab, or by a larger group of Beaconhouse schools at the very least,” the statement added.
Responding to arguments made by people on the social media that if Beaconhouse deemed it right to curse in any other language apart from Punjabi, the administration said, “We have understandably been asked if this means that it is okay for children to curse in Urdu or English. Needless to say, as an educational institution, we find cursing in any language completely inexcusable.”
The statement further regretted the singling out of Punjabi language by the Sahiwal’s branch head master: “Unfortunately, Mr Jamil Ahmed highlighted Punjabi because cursing in Punjabi was a specific issue with a few older boys at his branch. However, he was wrong. He should never have singled out Punjabi.”
The Beaconhouse school system apologised to its students, staff, alumni, and all speakers of Punjabi language for the confusion and hurt caused by the misunderstanding. They said that the circular has already been withdrawn with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, the administration has also launched an inquiry into the matter to know why the circular was distributed before having been vetted by the senior management.
“We have launched a full inquiry into this matter to identify how this lapse occurred in the first place, and why it was not identified by senior management. There is no longer any doubt that we need to establish stronger systems for monitoring school circulars and newsletters sent out by our Heads across Pakistan,” the school said.