The purpose of education is to teach individuals how to live, by conveying them the information that is required to achieve that purpose. This purpose can be best achieved when that information is conveyed in the language that is understandable to them. Therefore, it’s obvious that in order for the information to be useful, one must understand it first.
It is difficult for young school going kids to properly understand their mother tongue, yet they are flooded with tons of information in the language which is completely unknown to them. Yes, I am talking about the English language, which is impossible for most young kids to understand at their developmental stage. This dual language education so early on in the kids’ lives, only creates confusion in their minds. Consequently, they stop analyzing the information and start relying heavily on the rote learning. This process of rote learning is another hurdle in the way of critical thinking. Rote learning becomes the easiest way out of the confusion for the young kids and unfortunately rote learning is overly reinforced in educational institutions of our country. Another thing that creates aversion to education in the minds of kids is the unnecessary junk included in their syllabus, which is not only above their developmental stage but also of no interest or of immediate use to them. This kind of excess in the syllabus serves no purpose other than to increase the weight of their school bags which is already in tons!
Until 1980s, most people would get their early education from government schools which are predominantly Urdu medium. We can compare the products of those old schools with the modern private English medium ones, If we observe the difference between the generations, we see that the products of old schools are far more qualified than the products of modern ones. They are far more tolerable and wise unlike the products of the modern schools.
Tolerance, patience, truthfulness, honesty, wisdom, sincerity, empathy are the virtues of the true education. Why is our society (literate portion) lacking these qualities despite the numerous amounts of educational institutions? The answer is simple, because they couldn’t understand the vast amount of information taught to them in those institutions and they escaped them by either ratifying the information or simply by cheating in the exams.
English language is causing hurdles in the way of education not only in the schools; but things are equally miserable all the way up until university level. Students seek knowledge but English is standing in the way and blocking that pathway to knowledge.
What can be done to solve this problem?
- We need to raise the standard of our government schools. We do not need huge amount of budget to do so. We can achieve good results simply by appointing teachers on merit there.
- Secondly, as there are so many private English medium schools, we should also experiment with some good quality private Urdu medium schools too, because the education is most effective when it’s given in the mother tongue. It’s worth experimenting!
- There should be special emphasis in schools on teaching English, because English cannot be replaced by the mother tongue at higher education. But English should only be taught as a language and not to be used as a medium.
- Another step at much higher level would be to start a translating body, assigned to translate books or research articles of various disciplines into the language that is understandable to most of our population. (Translating research articles is relatively less expensive task than translating whole books).
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