RAWALPINDI: A plan of the Punjab government to enforce Urdu as a medium of instruction in government-run schools of the province from the new educational year has run aground after the provincial textbook board supplied schools with the English medium books instead.
The move has caused dissent amongst teacher unions of the province.
While it is unclear what led to the discrepancy in enforcing a particular medium of instruction versus supplying books in a different language, All Teachers Alliance Head Sufi Ramzan told Daily Express that previously, a decision had been made that the English language will only be taught as a subject in schools from the new educational year, which commences on April 1.
The remainder of the syllabus will be taught in Urdu.
However, when they received books for the upcoming educational year, they were shocked to find that they were all in English.
With less than 10 days to go until the new session begins, schools and teachers had no option but to hand out these books. However, the Education Ministry has turned its back on the decision.
Ramzan said that they have mentioned this in their protests to the Provincial Education Minister Murad Raas.
Further, he expressed concerns that 90 per cent of the newly- enrolled students in the province will not receive free course books because as part of the government’s drive to enrol out-of-school children, they were expecting some five million new admissions this year.
But they have only been supplied books for the students who managed to enrol in schools by October 2018.
Meanwhile, no school has sought an additional stock of books for students who will be enrolled later. Ramzan said that many students will now have to buy new course books from the open market.
The Punjab government has finalised a teacher and school rationalisation policy. The rationalization process is expected to begin later this year.
Under the policy, those primary schools will be affected who have 20 or fewer students enrolled in them. All such schools will be merged into nearby schools along with their teachers.
Moreover, the new draft policy stipulates that there will be at least four teachers in each primary school who will together be responsible for teaching over 100 students.
Those schools who have 150 students or more, an additional teacher will be given to such schools. An additional teacher will be given to a school for every 60 students above it.
If the size of a class increases, then such classes will be divided into two sections.
The draft policy will now be dispatched to the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for final approval.
In a bid to mitigate supply issues, especially in the remote areas and to facilitate out-of-school children, the Punjab government has decided to upload all books, audio and video lectures for all classes of grade 6 through 12.
Punjab Education Minister Raas has ordered the promotion of some 17,000 teachers across Rawalpindi.
The minister directed that teachers should be promoted by the Departmental Promotion Committee within a month irrespective of their categories but whilst keeping merit in place.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2019.