‘Which language?’

03 Oct 2020

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APROPOS the article ‘Which language?’(Sept 25). The writer states that “one aspect of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) that has yet to be resolved is the medium of instruction.”

On the other hand the federal minister for education in an article authored by him states that the overwhelming advice received from the national conference was that “besides English, which should be taught as a language, all other subjects from grade 1 to 5 should be taught either in Urdu or in the mother language.”

According to the minister, the provinces now have the option of choosing either Urdu as a medium of instruction or any other mother language.

It has been a dilemma since independence for children that they would speak in the mother tongue at home, Urdu in school and a few years later would be expected to have proficiency in a foreign language English, in higher classes.

In developed countries children have the advantage to continue to speak, write and be taught in the mother tongue and don’t have the compulsion to learn any other language.

This reminds me of our social studies teacher in class three in our school at Jhelum. She would ask us to memorise the following poem: “Gilli lakri bhari aay; Taqat lag gai sari aay; Apnay apnay ghar ko jao; Aik aik ari lay kar aao, etc. Roughly translated: “The wet wood is heavy; we have applied full force; go to your homes; bring one saw each.”

For seven decades, I was unable to understand as to why the teacher’s poem was a combination of Punjabi and Urdu. However, with the controversy raging on SNC, I have resolved my quandary.

This brings me to another observation. In the early 1950s, the majority of parents started telling their children to speak in Urdu with younger siblings instead of their mother tongue. Urdu had already been declared the national language. Consequently, the children would understand their mother tongue but could not converse in it. This trend has changed and now even in middle class families, the parents speak in English with their children. Those children who are fluent in English find it difficult to speak Urdu, and many don’t understand their mother tongue at all.

We should therefore shed the concept of linking the learning and speaking of English with the elitist class. Now, parents in general understand that the success of their children is heavily dependent on being fluent in English, which is universally understood.

There is no doubt that the chances of a candidate getting selected in a job interview, especially in the progressive companies, increase many times if they have command over English.

Parvez Rahim

Karachi

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APROPOS the article ‘Which language?’(Sept 25). It is a well-written article as it enumerates all the pros and cons likely to be faced by the education department. Ergo, thinking and communicating in foreign language (English) in the higher grades would help the student in seeking education in a didactic way.

Simultaneously, it will begin an exciting journey of self-discovery for the student. The miraculous improvement in leaning outcomes will do wonders for the pedagogue as well since it elevates self-confidence and ultimately leads to excellent performance.

Khadija Kausar

Gujranwala

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2020