ENGLISH & URDU MEDIUM SCHOOLS
S.KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
Research Analyst, PAGE
Apr 23 - 29, 2012
Pakistan has a population of approximately 180 million and the current portion of the population that is functional in verbal and written English is less than two per cent. Education in Pakistan is carried out in two languages, Urdu as a national language and English. The languages of the domains of power government, corporate sector, media, education, etc. are English and Urdu. The state's policies have favored these two languages at the expense of others.
This has resulted in the expression of ethnic identity through languages other than Urdu. It has also resulted in English having become a symbol of the upper class, sophistication and power. To express feelings, mother tongues must be taught compulsorily in schools. It was estimated that the majority of the parents in Pakistan wished to send their children to Urdu medium schools 62 per cent while the preference of English medium was opted by 14 per cent, mainly they are still being fleeced through high fees, uniforms and compulsory private tuition.
The preference for English as medium of instruction was rather low in the entire country, but it is quite important in the urban areas, especially the three major urban centres: Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, where 30 per cent of the parents wished to send their children to English medium schools as compared to Urdu medium.
During FY2010-11, out of every four children in the private schools, at least one child took paid tuition, whereas out of every 10 children in the Government school, at least one child took paid tuition in the country. Furthermore, the overall children's attendance in government schools stood at 82 per cent and 89 per cent for private schools. Sindh had 65 per cent attendance whilst Khyber Pakhtunkwa had 88 per cent children's attendance. Teachers' attendance was 87 per cent in government schools and 90 per cent in private schools was estimated during FY2010-11.
Government-funded institutions are Urdu-medium and have English as a separate subject. Private institutions use English as a medium of instruction and mostly follow Western traditions in teaching and rules. These two types also reflect differences in the socioeconomic level of students with the former representing the lay population and the latter representing the upper social class.
The children who are brought up in modern English medium schools differed from the children reading in the Urdu medium schools in many ways. The basic question about education is its purpose and utility for society, and which system can fulfill this purpose better?
Education is meant to mould a child into a good human being who is beneficial to society. In the modern English medium, most of the students tend to get themselves enveloped into small worlds of their own, far away from their environment. They are made to believe that their immediate aim in life is to score A grades, speak English and immerse themselves in popular western ways of life. Younger children are forced to speak English, memorize foreign stories and, poems and mimic American or British mannerism, stunting their mental faculties.
However, it does not mean that the modern English-medium schools should be shut down. Being a true global lingua franca and a language of both knowledge and trade, English must be taught as a subject and promoted as a means for acquiring specialized skills and new knowledge. Ideally, every Pakistani should be able to read, write and converse in English. Surely, it is a good vehicle of carrying out modernization of society. What is needed is their humanization; make them affordable for the common, people; de-mechanize their syllabi and bring their students close to the Pakistani society and the people.
A uniformed education system is possible only through a uniformed syllabus, medium of instructions and examination system.
Mathematics and science subjects are being taught in English in English medium schools. The demand of justice is that an opportunity should be provided to the children studying at government schools to benefit from English medium schools system.
As compared to English medium schools, the teachers of government schools are better trained and better paid and can easily teach English medium classes but it needs to be upgraded in quality of education. The refresher courses must be conducted for the teachers of all public sector schools in the country. The majority of newly recruited educators hold master degree; they should be especially assigned the responsibility of English medium classes.
EDUCATION LEVELS IN FY 2009-10 (%)
No Formal Education 0.5 Below Matric 37.5 Matric but less than Inter 10.7 Inter but less than degree 4.7 Degree and above 4.3
In the context of dual education systems, one cannot ignore parents' indifference with their children's activities. In fact, they create within the home an atmosphere of total license and freedom and are proud of their scions' adoption of Western values and mannerism, even if it cuts off their links with the Pakistani culture. This attitude must change. It is neither good for the family nor the nation. Children are too young and too inexperienced to dictate their terms to parents. School and the family should jointly commit themselves to produce good human and responsible citizens. The love for humanity, brotherhood, justice and peace should be emphasized in all schools English and Urdu medium.
English should be introduced as a medium of education in government schools in all provinces of Pakistan on priority basis. Moreover, English training should be given to all government schools teachers for upgrading their system. Presently, many private English learning coaching centres have been opened for English language and training the students. Unluckily, they are charging high fees from the students.