THE Punjab Education Department has notified the conversion of all its schools from the Urdu medium of instruction to the English, in its primary and elementary classes, from the next school year. This is in place of the earlier decision to have 10 percent of all government schools in English medium from the next academic year. To prepare for this step, all the headmasters, headmistresses and senior teachers have been designated master trainers, and have already undergone a six-day training course in spoken English. They will train the other teachers in spoken English in 12-day courses as master trainers. With one stroke, the Punjab Education Department has plunged into a hornets nest, which it only exited with great difficulty about a century and a half ago, when the original decision to adopt Urdu as the medium of instruction was made. The decision does not have sound linguistic or pedagogical roots, but is based on a whim as well as on a political desire to have a slogan resonating with the voters at the next election. Admittedly, the decision to use Urdu ensured that students were taught in a foreign language, not their native Punjabi; but they were also deprived of exposure to the leading international language. The Anglo-Vernacular system, in which science subjects were taught in English, was in vogue before Partition, and it was only after a hard struggle that the sciences were taught in Urdu. However, the present step does not introduce the students native language as the medium of instruction, which pedagogical experts say is essential to true learning. It also places an unnecessary burden on teachers, who are being rushed into the new system after a brief course, and on the students, who are being asked to switch their medium in the middle of their school careers. Changing the medium will only produce people who are illiterate in both languages, and will not remedy either poor teaching or under-funding, the real problems faced by education in Punjab, indeed the whole country.