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January 25, 2010

Plan to introduce English medium sparks debate

Business

January 25, 2010

LAHORE

THE Punjab government’s plan to introduce English as the medium of instruction in all the government schools of the province, in a phased manner, has become a subject of heated as academic session 2010 approaches.

When the new academic session will start from April 2010, all the government schools of three districts, Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan, will follow English as medium of instruction.

Apparently, the move is to attract the people who have lost confidence in public schools and prefer to send their children to private schools where besides many other things, English as medium of instructions makes a difference.

It has, however, invited criticism on the grounds that the plan is overambitious and has been followed while ignoring the ground realities. Some stakeholders are also critical of the plan because they believe it will infringe upon rights of those who want to seek education in Urdu.

Nonetheless, there are those who welcome the decision, saying it will attract people who otherwise are being fleeced by private sector schools mostly in the name of English medium schools. They also argue that the government has been unable to come up with a regulatory authority for private schools over the years, however, it will be successful to ‘control’ these schools by diverting people towards the public sector schools.

Though some government schools have been following English medium over the years, the idea to expand the same in the majority of government schools of the province was floated by former Secretary Schools Punjab Nadeem Ashraf under which hundreds of selected schools from across the province were converted into English medium schools in one go in 2009.

According to the Punjab government’s plan, from academic session 2010, besides hundreds of schools from across the province, all the government schools of three districts Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan will offer English as the medium of

instruction to students enrolling in Class 1 and Class 6. The other classes will achieve uniformity subsequently upon promotion of the students of Class 1 and Class 6 to next grades.

Secretary Schools Aslam Kamboh says only subjects of Science and Mathematics will be offered in English while the rest of subjects will be taught in Urdu.

However, the stakeholders are also suspicious of government teachers’ capacity to deliver under the new system. They express their concerns, asking how the teachers, who have been teaching Science and Mathematics in Urdu over the years, will be able to teach the same in English.

According to sources in the School Education Department, around 60,000 of the government teachers are only matriculate. This alone is enough to predict “success” of the plan at primary level. The department recently announced some two-weeks training sessions for teachers to teach in English. However, the stakeholders are of the view that experience of two or three weeks can never replace experience of years.

Punjab Government Schools Senior Staff Association (PGSSSA) President Hafiz Abdul Nasir believes that conversion of all the government schools into English medium schools will be unconstitutional. “How can the government snatch the right of an individual who wants to continue studies in Urdu as the medium of instruction?” he says, adding that it is unfortunate that according to the scheme of studies mentioned in the new National Education Policy, the subject of Arabic, being taught as a compulsory subject from Class 6 to Class 8, will be made optional. “It is strange that no one talks about introduction of Nazra Quran or Arabic,” he says.

However, Secretary Schools Aslam Kamboh says as compared to private schools, the teachers of public sector schools are better trained and better paid. He says a majority of the newly recruited educators holds masters degrees, maintaining that there are only management issues which need to be addressed.

Academic circles are of the view that keeping in view experimentation in education sector in the past, those at the helm must be careful as a hasty move can prove disastrous as it will directly affect the schoolchildren.



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The Government College University’s Annual Bonfire organised by its welfare society was held at the university’s amphitheatre on Saturday.

United States Consul General Carmella Conroy opened the gala by torching the bonfire while the university’s eminent old students, namely singer Shafqat Amanat Ali, Federal Secretary Environment Kamran Lashari, Gymkhana Club Chairman Mian Misbaur Rehman and GCU Endowment Fund Trust President Iqbal Z Ahmed, were the guest of honours.

Shafqat Amanat Ali, Sheryar sang songs while Ali five students from Quetta gave a dance performance. GCU Welfare Society member Asad Sahi presented comic skits.

———[email protected]

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