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PA passes resolution on mandatory Sindhi teaching in private schools

Updated March 13, 2019

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The resolution is passed in the absence of opposition parties as they boycott the session.— AFP/File
The resolution is passed in the absence of opposition parties as they boycott the session.— AFP/File

KARACHI: As the three major opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday abstained from the day’s proceedings announcing that they would not attend the session for two days, the legislature passed a private resolution demanding mandatory teaching of Sindhi in private schools.

Unlike the past five days, the lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance opted to stay away from the house on the private members’ day — the day dedicated for members’ business with most agenda involving the opposition benches.

Two-day boycott

Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi, MQM-P’s Khwaja Izharul Hasan and GDA’s parliamentary leader addressed a press conference on the stairs of the old Assembly Building where they announced that they would not be attending the session for the next two days.

Opposition parties boycott session for two days

They accused the treasury benches of taking the house “hostage” on account of its majority in the assembly, adding that with more than two months in the session, the government had failed to offer any people-friendly business or measures that could benefit the people of Sindh.

“We’ll boycott the session for two days,” said Mr Naqvi.

Adviser’s threat

Barrister Murtaza Wahab, adviser on law and information to the Sindh chief minister, later came to the same venue and told the media that the three opposition parties did not want to be part of the proceedings of the highest public forum, thus, their members should not be eligible to get perks and privileges that they got as lawmakers.

Inside the house, PPP’s Marui Rashdi moved a private resolution in which the house asked the provincial government to take steps for implementation of the prerequisites given in the Form-B of the Sindh Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2005 and ensure teaching of Sindhi in all private schools across the province.

Education Minister Sardar Shah said teaching of Sindhi was mandatory in the rules of the abovementioned law. However, he added, the private schools, certain “elitist schools in particular”, were not socially responsible to the laws of the land and it was about time to make them follow the rules.

He said it was mandatory for all private schools to include Sindhi in their syllabi. He said Sindh was unique when it made teaching of Sindhi mandatory in its schools as multilingual teaching for children was in vogue in many parts of the world.

Mr Shah claimed not more than 20 per cent of the people of the world knew or spoke English while only 360 million of them had English as their first language.

He said Western literature had a history not as old as the one in the subcontinent. Similarly, universities in Britain were built in the light of history a few centuries before while the world’s first university had been found near Taxila on the vast terrains of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

He said by accepted standards learning of a language was a matter of not more than six months. However, despite being taught English for 18 long years, most graduates here could not speak a couple of sentences in English.

“We are slave to the superiority of English and this complex even makes us not learn our own languages properly.”

He said teaching in mother tongue was the best way to teach a child. However, children could be involved in multitasking and could learn many languages after they passed primary classes.

Mr Shah said certain elitist schools and the ones offering the Cambridge system had not made Sindhi part of their syllabi. He said it turned out after his ministry’s communication with Cambridge in the United Kingdom that “it cannot happen until your [Pakistan’s] state honours your language”.

Elaborating, the education minister said the situation would have been much better if the federal governments of Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif had given the status of national languages to seven Pakistani languages. Despite that, he added, his ministry was using its contacts to ensure Sindhi was taught in the Cambridge system as well.

Mr Shah said the education ministry was not registering more private schools at present since there were 12,500 such schools already in the business, most of which were not complying with many rules. They did not offer free education to 10 per cent of their enrolment to deserving children and lacked facilities.

Private schools’ census

He said the ministry had launched census of private schools, after which “I will personally visit those schools which are not offering Sindhi to students and violating other rules and cancel their registration”.

He said he was on the side of parents and society at large should help the government to ensure their children got better education from private schools.

Health Minister Azra Pechuho said education in mother tongue was extremely important as that efficiently built child’s cognitive ability, connection with environment and enhanced IQ.

She said children who did not belong to Sindhi-speaking families should also learn Sindhi after early childhood classes as that would help them love the culture of Sindh, own the soil and diminish the existing urban-rural disconnect.

Shamim Mumtaz, Sohrab Sarki, Shahnaz Ansari, Hina Dastagir, Munawwar Wassan and Ghazala Siyal also spoke.

Aurat March controversy

Earlier, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s sole member, Abdul Rasheed, criticised certain “highly objectionable” placards and banners used during Aurat March at Frere Hall on International Women’s Day, claiming that it was against the tenets of Islam and the accepted norms of society where religion formed its core values.

He said many placards were meant to destroy the family system in Pakistan, requesting the chief minister to inquire about who had permitted that rally.

He asked for the government’s backing to his cause to protect Pakistani women, announcing that he would soon lodge an FIR against the organisers of the rally.

Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said the Sindh government had no involvement in the rally, which was organised by certain private organisations or individuals.

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Mohammad Qasim criticised Federal Minister Faisal Vawda for a recent statement on a private TV station that, he said, amounted to blasphemy.

PPP’s Sharjeel Memon pointed out that the federal minister had already apologised over his “slip of the tongue”. However Speaker Siraj Durrani said there was no compromise on the sanctity of the Prophet (PBUH).

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2019