Book Review: Tyranny of Language in Education

By Zohra Yusuf
Source: Newsline

The Language Divide

When the Bengali language movement started, leading to the killing of students on February 21, 1952, no one – and certainly not the establishment in West Pakistan – thought that in the second decade of the 21st century, this date would begin to be commemorated by the UN as International Mother’s Language Day. Bengalis have been known to be passionate about their mother tongue. But apart from the passion, perhaps they realised early on that language is an instrument of power and control. Consequently, they rejected vociferously, Governor-General Jinnah’s decision to make ‘only Urdu’ the national language of Pakistan. It’s also worth noting that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, experienced his first arrest at the hands of Pakistani authorities when, as a student, he led a protest following Jinnah’s ill-conceived public speech in Dhaka.
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Education facing ‘tyranny of language’

By Imtiaz Ali
Source: The News

‘Be not the slave of words’ was the advice given by Scottish literary Thomas Carlyle over a century ago, and can be applied to Pakistan today with respect to language in education. Be not the slave of language or rather, be not under the tyranny of language, was the topic of discussion at Saturday’s launch of Zubeida Mustafa’s latest book “Tyranny of language in education, the problem and its solution”, at the Karachi Press Club.

During the event, speakers critiqued the dominance of the English language in Pakistan’s prevailing education system.

Senior journalist and writer Zubeida said that education essentially played the role of equaliser in terms of opportunities, but in Pakistan it was reinforcing the division of society.
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Book launch: ‘Teach children in their mother language, build their self-confidence’

By Mahnoor Sherazee
Source: Tribune

After extensive research and a great deal of groundwork, Mustafa launched her book ‘Tyranny of Language in Education: The Problem and its Solution’.

Author: Zubeida Mustafa. Photo Credit: Athar Khan / Express

KARACHI: Are we restricting our children’s cognitive development by teaching them in a foreign language in primary schools? Dawn columnist Zubeida Mustafa certainly believes so.

After extensive research and a great deal of groundwork, Mustafa launched her book ‘Tyranny of Language in Education: The Problem and its Solution’ at the press club on Saturday.

“In education, the medium of instruction is not given enough importance whereas cognitive development is closely related to language,” she told The Express Tribune. “Using English as that medium right from the start, in primary school, is harmful to that relationship.”
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Education in mother tongue stressed

Source: Dawn

KARACHI, May 28: An impassioned discussion on the subject of education was witnessed at a seminar held at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday. The event was part of the launch of a book titled Tyranny of language in education: the problem and its solution by Zubeida Mustafa.

Dr Aquila Ismail, a former teacher of the NED university, in her introductory remarks to the book and its contents said language was a medium of communication and the thought process was related to the language in which a child dreamed.
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INTERVIEW: “Parents want education for their children but feel helpless.”

Source: InpaperMagzine,Dawn
What is the education sector’s biggest failure?

It has failed to teach our children the value of human life and dignity as well as to impart economic skills to the majority. Most significantly, it has proved to be the dividing factor that has stratified society.

How can we fix this?

Revamp education. Remove inequities. Focus on the teaching — what you teach, how you teach and in which language you teach.
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Possible solutions

A major achievement in the study of the failure of our language and education policies
By Dr Tariq Rahman
Source: Jang

Tyranny of Language
in Education:
The Problem and its Solution
By Zubeida Mustafa
Publisher: Ushba Publishing, 2011
Pages: 234
Price Rs. 200

Like many concerned Pakistanis, Zubeida Mustafa has been worried about the unjust and dysfunctional education system of the country. Unlike most of us, however, she started investigating the phenomenon and wrote a series of
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non-fiction: The language disconnect

Reviewed by Murtaza Razvi
Source: InpaperMagzine, Dawn

The timing of this book is very appropriate given the parliament’s passage last year of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives the provinces more say in their own affairs. Zubeida Mustafa forcefully argues for the adoption of a language policy that acknowledges the many languages, seven major ones, that are spoken in Pakistan and have their majority speakers concentrated in respective geographical locations.

So far only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has taken the initiative to implement mother-tongue teaching in schools as the first and compulsory language. Being a multi-lingual province, not very unlike the other provinces, the proposal is to teach Pushto, Hindko, Seraiki, Khwar and Kohistani in respective districts where speakers of these languages form a majority. The initiative is so equitable and democratic that it would please everyone concerned and needs to be emulated by the other provinces.

The book relies heavily on research to arrive at the conclusion drawn by experts, universally, that small children are best taught in their mother tongue. There are various recommendations coming from many experts in the field, including Pakistani and international scholars and concerned institutions, to back up the argument that runs through the book.

Naturally all vary as to at what point should a second or a third language be introduced; however, experts agree that at the nursery and kindergarten level children should only be exposed to their mother tongue, or the predominant language in the child’s environment, as the medium of instruction.

Detailed recommendations of a British Council report for school teaching in Pakistan prepared by Hywel Coleman and those by Dr Tariq Rahman are included in the book. These are then augmented by the author’s own recommendations as a third option. In Pakistan the anomalies in the education system are many but policy makers have done little to address them. The writer points out, in conjunction with experts on the subject, that apathy on the part of policy makers is due to the fact that they belong to a social class whose children will never go through the public school system but most likely attend elite English medium schools.

Herein also lies much controversy, as the writer points out the very anomaly of running two parallel education systems where English medium schools remain the choice of the elite and Urdu and Sindhi medium schools the only options available to the rest of Pakistanis. Those attending the elite schools may be well versed in global knowledge and have better English-language skills but they remain generally alienated from their own mother tongue (and even Urdu) as well as their country and culture in many cases.

As for the vast majority that goes through the public school system, the quality of the syllabi taught there hardly prepares them for practical life. Their less than good proficiency in English, which remains the criterion for securing gainful employment, handicaps them. Zubeida Mustafa and Zakia Sarwar, the latter a prominent teacher specialising in teaching English language, are of the opinion that teaching English at the primary level does not show desirable results because in public schools “poor teachers will teach poor English.”

The book is academically well researched, and a solid attempt at kindling the much needed debate on the use of native languages as the medium of instruction, starting at the primary level. As pointed out by the author, acknowledgement of ethnic and religious pluralism that exists in Pakistani society will only strengthen the state and its institutions. Imposition of tyrannical measures laced with a heavy dose of ideology in the name of national unity denies the diversity that exists in
the citizens’ identities, and which they guard jealously.

Tyranny of Language in Education:
The Problem and its Solution
By Zubeida Mustafa
Ushba Publishing, Karachi
ISBN 978-969-9154-22-5
234pp. Rs200