LAHORE   -   Experts have warned that government’s decision to introduce Urdu language as medium of instruction for students enrolled at primary level in public schools (48 percent) only, will bring no improvement in Punjab education system and it will create more divisions in already divided public and private sector students.

Punjab government has announced to introduce Urdu language as medium of instruction for students enrolled at the primary level only in public schools (48 percent) excluding 54 percent private sector schools in the province from next academic year in March 2020.

Experts say the policy will create more divisions and widen the gap between public and private sector students.

Internationally acclaimed Pakistani educationist and Urdu language expert Arfa Sayeda Zehra told The Nation, “I will be the happiest person, if government introduces Urdu as medium of instruction at primary level across the board in public and private schools”.

“They (government) are creating divisions and building boundaries among different economic classes on the basis of education. Elitism has already taken all over the education system and the policy of incumbent government will provide more opportunities to privileged class and hinder progress of less privileged class,” she explained.

According to a report on Annual School Census 2017-18 compiled by Programme Monitoring & Implementation Unit/Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme (PESRP) of school education department, there were 84,48,777 students enrolled at primary level in public schools out of total 1,22,68,981 students from grade 1 to grade 12 with 4,03,172 teachers. There are 6,44,052 students in Lahore alone enrolled in public schools. 

On the other hand, according to PESRP 2016 report, there are 60,502 private schools (54 percent) in comparison to 52,231 (48 percent) public schools across the province. There are 5,436 private schools in comparison to 1,219 public schools in Lahore.

Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas, talking to media on Monday at Punjab Assembly, said arrangements were underway to introduce Urdu as medium of instruction at primary level in public schools of Punjab from the next academic year.

He said English will be taught as a language course to students from first grade to fifth grade.

“Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) conducted a survey in 22 districts of the province in which 85 people responded in favour of Urdu as medium of instruction,” he said.

The education minister said that so-called English medium school had not yielded required results and the English teachers in public schools had no expertise in English language so students could not learn English properly.

Murad Raas citing other countries examples said that all countries preferred to teach their children in their local languages.

He acknowledged that there were multiple problems in education sector that could not be solved in few days and it would take time to improve the system.

On the other hand, All Pakistan Private Schools Federation President Kashif Mirza said that policy to introduce Urdu as medium of instruction in public schools at primary level would yield no positive results.

He was of the view that policy would bring no improvement in Punjab education system and it will create more divisions in already divided public and private sector students.

“If government will approach private sector to implement Urdu language as medium of instruction then it should be across the board otherwise government’s claim of introducing uniform education system will prove a hollow slogan,” he said, adding, there were more than 1,03,400 private schools in Punjab catering a large number of students.