What should be the Medium of Education in Pakistan?
“The medium of instruction should be the mother tongue, be it Urdu, Pashto, Sindhi or Balochi.”
I did my MA in English in 1989 and have been associated with the field of education for more than 30 years, but even today if I find a difficult text on philosophy in English, after reading it, I first translate it into Urdu and then understand it.
This is my opinion; I am associated with the Government education sector and working in the education department as SST.
According to my observation, in many schools of Pakistan, even the children do not know English and they also teach the children by translating.
A government initiative is now trying to solve the problem of teaching through translation.
Punjab care-taker Chief Minister Mr. Mohsen Naqavi has recently announced that Urdu will be made the medium of instruction at the primary level in government schools.
But is doing this in Pakistan or at least in Punjab a positive step or a complication?
Former Chairman of Higher Education Commission, Dr. Attaur Rahman says, “In my opinion, the medium of education should be mother tongue.” Be it Urdu, Pashto, Sindhi or Balochi. Because children understand their mother tongue best at an early age of their education. It does not necessarily have to be English.
Dr. Attaur Rahman says that if this decision is taken with reference to the mother tongue, then it is a better decision.
He said that English is a very important language and it is very important to be taught as a subject from the beginning and it should be compulsory from the beginning.
The government’s announced policy calls for inclusion of English as a subject up to the primary school level, but it is not clear whether it will be made compulsory.
But won’t this approach create difficulties for students in technical subjects like science or mathematics, that the same subject should be adapted to new words and names after primary?
In this regard, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman says, “It happens all over the world that the mother tongue is used up to the primary level.” If you try to teach a child something in English when his mother tongue is something else, there will be difficulties.
If the mother tongue is not Urdu and you apply it, it will also face problems, but Urdu will still be easier than English. Administratively you have to have the books and you have to have the teachers to implement it and that is a very difficult step.
Bela Jameel, the head of the non-governmental organization Affair, associated with the education sector, says that “I would like that Punjabi should also be experienced in some areas.” It would be a very logical thing.
She says, “We (her institution) also conducted an experiment a few years ago when English medium was being introduced, in which 2,200 teachers from government and private schools participated. The performance of the teachers was so bad that we said that the teachers here are not ready for English medium. That’s why I’m happy that English is moving away from the medium, at least at the primary level.
However, they definitely have a fear.
She says, ‘May God teaches English as a subject. It should not be that they are studying Islamite in the subject of English. These are the problems of your book of 12 chapters, in which it may be then six will be in Islamite.