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PESHAWAR: After a delay of five years, the elementary and secondary education department will start teaching of regional languages in government schools as compulsory subject from the next academic year, according to officials.

The next academic year will commence from April. “The previous provincial government had declared teaching of five regional languages as compulsory subject in educational institutions up to intermediate level under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Promotion of Regional Languages Authority Act, 2012,” said the officials.

They said that education department took five years to implement the decision. “Five languages including Pashto, Hindko, Seraiki, Khowar (Chitrali) and Kohistani have been declared regional languages. Every language has to be taught in the area where the people speak it,” they said.

Official says decision to be implemented gradually

A senior official said that out of five regional languages, four would be taught while the Kohistani, the fifth one, couldn’t be taught owing to a dispute among the people, who spoke it.

“There is difference in the Kohistani language spoken in the upper and lower part of Kohistan district,” he added.

The official said that teaching of regional languages would not be introduced in all classes at once rather the decision would be implemented gradually. In the next academic year, teaching of regional languages would start from grade-1.

“The regional languages will be taught at grade-I and the subject would be introduced in the next class as the students promote,” said the official. He added that regional languages would take 12 years to be taught to students of all classes up to intermediate level.

“The Textbook Board Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has already sent books of regional languages to the districts concerned for onward distribution among the schools,” he said.

The official said that curricula for the regional languages were prepared by the Directorate of Curricula and Teachers Education Abbottabad up to intermediate level while books for grade-1 were developed by textbook board.

“It is worth mentioning that primers of regional languages have developed by the textbook board in 2014 that were also taught to the beginner class in the schools,” official said. However, teaching of regional languages couldn’t be continued to the students of other classes as the textbook board failed to develop books, he said, adding that it caused delay in the implementation of the decision.

Teaching of regional languages was made compulsory in educational institutions for their promotion and preservation.

Preamble of the law states “whereas clause (3) of Article 251 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides that without prejudice to the status of the National Language, a Provincial Assembly may by law prescribe measures for the teaching, promotion and use of provincial languages in addition to the national language.”

According to the law, it is natural aspiration and desire of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to promote widely spoken regional languages in the province.

When asked about any programme to train teachers on teaching regional languages, a senior official of education department said that so far the department had no plan to train teachers regarding regional languages.

“Training teachers about regional languages is necessary as besides Pashto other languages will be introduced in the schools for the first time,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017