Pakistan ruined by language myth

By Zubeida Mustafa

Effective teaching of English is the preserve of an elite leaving the rest of the country to linguistic confusion and educational failure.

Last year I wrote a book highlighting the crisis in Pakistan’s education system caused by the way languages are used and taught. Its publication prompted one critic to remark that I was trying to “backwardise” the children of Pakistan. Another said that language was not the problem; it was what we taught that needed to be addressed.

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7 Responses to Pakistan ruined by language myth

  1. Hassan Abbas says:

    Excellent article – its up on my blog Watandost as well.

    All the best,

  2. Badri Raina says:

    persistent problem throught the subcontinent;

  3. Husain Naqi says:

    This is somethinbg we all have been stressing but our policy decision makers opted for colonial model of governance.it will require political will and decision.to change this.

  4. V K Bajaj (Delhi says:

    @Mustafa

    The irony of this article is that you have addressed the problem of Pakistan but this problem prevails in many countries so it is being taken as addressed to many nations.

    Though Hindi is our national and official language but pity is that English is supreme. And the person who speaks Hindi is termed as illiterate and English speaking a high profile.

    English, at presently, an international language due to the fact that The English ruled over many countries for many years. Internet has further made a world alike a village. Professionals are being exchanged by countries. Out of this need to learn English parents take special care of their kids and so English medium starts from very beginning.

    No doubt English is a necessity but ignoring one's own mother and mother language is totally injurious to culture. Sometimes it is too difficult to convert our thought perfectly from mother language to English.

    Your suggestion (to start English after 5th standard) though FINE but would never be accepted.

  5. Sakib_Ahmad says:

    I read this article at the Guardian website, where I left a comment. I am repeating that comment here – would be very interested in the author's reply.

    "I am surprised that this article fails to mention that Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. All Pakistanis understand it and it is the only language that they use to communicate with each other. It is also a highly developed language capable of teaching subjects at the university level. Since the author lives in Karachi she cannot be unaware of the existence of Urdu University in Karachi.

    The pre-eminence of English is a relic of Pakistan's colonial past, which has survived to this day except that the white faces have been replaced by brown faces. These Brown Sahibs and Brown Memsahibs treat the "natives" with just as much contempt as did the British rulers. The deep inferiority complex that Pakistan's ruling class suffers from has made them ashamed of their language, culture, traditions and spiritual inheritance. These cultural slaves of the West, who know hardly anything about the Message of the Quran, carry a great deal of responsibility for the emergence of Taliban who espouse a distorted version of Islam which directly contradicts the Quranic injunctions.

    In short, the multi-faceted language problem of Pakistan is immensely complex. I wrote a lengthy post about it in my blog, which attracted many comments. Those who are interested to learn more are recommended to read both the original article and the comments here:
    http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/01/punjab-gov… "

  6. Abdul Wahid Shabab says:

    Pakistan ruined by language myth
    Madam Zubeida mustafa rightly traced the language problem and the able author also put forth mechanism to address the linguistic problem. Though English is an international language used for communication yet its being the universal communicating tool does not provide justification to use this language for pedagogy purposes. It does not mean that English should be excluded from text books rather it should be taught as a secondary language. I am no an educationist to put up my decisive opinion yet I am convinced that kids at school could acquire much knowledge if they are taught in their mother language.
    I earnestly expect from the authority concerned to give the matter of national importance a serious thought and address the controversy for the good of the Pakistani nation.

  7. V K Bajaj (Delhi) says:

    @ Sakib_Ahmad

    You have rightly said that The Mother Language is the conclusive factor for enriching the culture, traditions and spiritual inheritance. I have already commented on this platform that one can express his/her thoughts in own mother language very clearly and perfectly as compared to English. But as English is now an International Language so out of need to learn it many are doing it at cost of Mother Language. I can see too many peoples around me (including myself) who are neither fine at English nor at Hindi nor at Urdu and nor at Punjabi.

    Please take that Musfata has addressed the Problem in a very effective manner.

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