The language barrier: Sindh’s ‘failed’ attempt to learn Chinese

Provincial govt had announced to make Chinese language compulsory in schools

Hafeez Tunio May 31, 2015
Sindh's failed attempt to learn Chinese language: PHOTO: FILE


Vowing to build a stronger relationship with China — Pakistan's ‘irreplaceable’ and ‘all-weather’ friend — the Sindh government had decided to promote the Chinese language and culture in the province around a year ago. Amid the tall claims and never-ending rhetoric, the provincial education department had even allocated Rs121 million to introduce the Chinese language as a compulsory subject for classes VI to Matriculation in schools across the province.

Like all such projects, however, this too has been limited to paper alone. Until the filing of this report, there have been no concerted efforts to implement the project, except frequent visits of senior bureaucrats, officials of the education department and elected representatives to China. The higher authorities of both the countries had even inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that read: "Teaching of Chinese will be made compulsory in all schools in the province and students learning the language will avail scholarships and other opportunities in China." The opportunity was not limited to students alone as it was decided that "teachers, scholars and employees of the education department will get training in Chinese institutions and, on their return, will teach the language in schools."

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Nawab Taimur Talpur, who is also the chairperson of the standing committee on technical education and research, was one of the delegates who visited China along with the education department staff to sign the agreement. Today, he has no idea where the plan is headed. "I think the programme is in the initial stage. Let me get the information from the relevant officials and get back to you," he said, when The Express Tribune contacted him for an update.

The education minister, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, and his secretary, Fazlullah Pechuho, were not available for comments. Khursheed Junejo, the chairperson of the Sindh Assembly's standing committee on school education, tried to explain the setbacks. "There were technical issues, which is why the programme has been delayed," he said, adding that the education department had now started the planning phase and the programme will be launched at the start of the next fiscal year. "China is a major investor in this region and we have cordial relations with the country. Therefore, we decided to incorporate this language into our syllabus so that our future generations will have an idea about it and we can develop socio-economic and cultural relations," he said.  "Not just the government schools, even private schools will teach this language."

Syed Khalid Shah, who heads the private schools management association, said they had outright refused to teach the Chinese language in private schools and conveyed their decision to the education minister. "This programme was to be launched by the previous PPP government and the then education minister, Pir Mazharul Haq, had met us in this regard but we had refused him," he said, adding that students cannot afford to learn too many languages. "Urdu, English, Arabic and Sindhi are already being taught in schools. How many more languages will be added to our syllabus besides the professional subjects? We cannot afford it," he concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2015. 


John Brown | 7 years ago | Reply I was struggling to learn a foreign language until I found this great tool! You must check this out!
Khan | 7 years ago | Reply Those Rs121 Million would have been silently pocketed by the ministers and spent on these useless foreign trips.
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