Monday, May 30, 2011

Zubeida Mustafa’s thought-provoking Tyranny of Language in Education launched

Jumbo Editorial Team

There was a sizeable gathering at the backyard of the Karachi Press Club on the evening of May 28 when quite a few eminent personalities of the metropolis brainstormed over the critical issue of language to be used in education.

The occasion was a seminar on ‘The Language in Education: What it should be’ which was followed by the launch of ‘Tyranny of Language in Education: The Problem and its Solution’ a book authored by Zubeida Mustafa.

The book, published by Ushba Publishing International, is an in-depth and well-researched analysis of problems encountered in the promotion of education in the country, with specific reference to language.

In the book Zubeida Mustafa has made an attempt to look at the issue from a young child’s perspective. She has come up with suggestions based on biological, social, historical, political and, above all, pragmatic imperatives that could give a boost to education in Pakistan. She sheds light on the roles to be assigned to the mother tongue, the national language and English, the international language of the day.

While all the worthy speakers came up with valid points when sharing their thoughts at the stage but the ceremony came alive only when the floor was opened for questions, allowing participants to express their views on the subject albeit briefly.

The list of speakers included Dr Aquila Ismail, a Professor of the NED University of Engineering & Technology, Dr Jaffar Ahmed, Director of Karachi University’s Pakistan Study Centre, Mehtab Akbar Rashdi, a bureaucrat, Kishwar Hameed, an educationist, Ghazi Salahuddin, a journalist, and Shahbano Alvi, Managing Director, Ushba Publishing.

Zubeida Mustafa is a Karachi-based journalist, having worked with DAWN, one of the leading English dailies of the country, as Assistant Editor from 1975 till her retirement in 2009. She wrote editorials and articles on the social sector after extensive research on education, health, women, children and population. Earlier she had been associated with the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs as a Research Officer from 1962 to 1969.

“Language is closely linked with a person’s socialisation. It is something that develops in a community. The culture, political thought and sociological dimension of people living in a group have a direct bearing on the language they speak,” she observed

“That is why language is never regarded as something neutral and the medium of instruction used in school has far-reaching implications for the people. It can facilitate their social, cultural and intellectual development or it can hurt their capacity to learn. Unfortunately, factors other than these obvious ones have determined the language to be used to teach a young child in Pakistan,” Zubeida Mustafa added.

1 comment:

  1. Despite the fact that English is an international language; that it's learning is an inescapable fact; that it has, though wrongly, become a symbol of status (for a class that strives to be recognized as 'westernized' --mistaken for modernized) and that having people recognize you as being a writer of English language is a pleasant experience, English, for being a language we are less familiar with, is a barrier so far as the expression of our thoughts and ideas in full spirit is concerned. It obstructs the intellectual development of a child, who, in spite of possessing creative mind, finds it difficult (and a consequent reluctance to learning) to put his thoughts in words only because what he has acquired from his society and observed in his surrounding can be best expressed in a language he is most fluent in.

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