I FIND it amazing that we are even discussing the medium of education these days. In the good old days, all government schools used to be English medium entities. Over the years, good teaching went out of the window because of bad governance and the quality of education in government schools deteriorated.

There are multiple reasons for this deterioration, and corruption is one of them. Appointments, promotions and transfers were done on considerations other than merit. The government schools thus ceased to be a part of the mainstream and were, as a class, considered a non-stream.

Some years after the partition, the so-called English medium schools engaged native English speakers as teachers on fat salaries which continued up to the early 1970s.

There is yet another misconception that learning English inculcates some kind of a slavish mentality. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was a staunch supporter of education in English. People also believe that those who study British English or American English turn into Englishmen or Americans in a cultural sense, which, again, is not true.

There are certain misconceptions regarding the English culture. An eminent critic, Randolph Quirk, rightly termed English a nuclear language. It is as culture-free as, say, calculus. In fact, as has been said, there is no such thing as an English culture.

If Pakistani students study English and do well, they may become man like the Quaid-i-Azam and his colleagues, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, like Imran Khan and others who have left their mark. A student of English can add new dimensions to the personality by using the knowledge of English and the access it provides to other streams of knowledge without losing the cultural traits.

English language has achieved a supreme status and would continue to be the language of the world. One in 10 people speak English and there is an increase of 15 per cent in the last 20 years in the ratio of non-native English speakers. Nearly three-fourth of original research is done in English and the remaining one-fourth done in other languages is immediately translated into English.

It is the storehouse of knowledge and learning, and is the language of diplomacy, trade and commerce across the world. As for Urdu, it is good for us as the national language, but it cannot help us in science and technology.

Dr K.M. Larik
Karachi

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2021

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