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Mother tongue should be medium of instruction in schools: scholars

HYDERABAD, Aug 30: Most of the scholars who presented papers at a conference on education on Wednesday were unanimous in their opinion that the medium of instruction for students at the primary level should be mother tongue.

The two-day international conference on "role of medium of instruction and examination method in learning process" was jointly organised by the Faculty of Education University of Sindh and HEC in which noted educationists and scholars read papers.

Dr R.A. Shah, professor of education at the Kean University of USA, who is also former vice-chancellor of the Sindh University, said that modern scientific methods and guidelines should be formulated for the teachers. The teachers must know the established theories propounded by the experts in the field of education, he said.

Dr Shah underlined the importance of English in academic affairs and urged the teachers to motivate their students to learn English, and expressed dissatisfaction with the prevailing examinations and evaluation system.

He said that the examination system in vogue assesses the students' memory but little or no importance was given to testing their thought process. The assessment of critical thinking and reflective thought was more important in assessing the real students' merit, he said.

He said that in this process the teachers teach only mediocrity at the expense of talented students, who feel bored to death in the classroom. The examiners do not do justice in the assessment of answer books and added that they should make judicious assessment as they are the judges at the time of evaluating the answer books.

He stressed the need for organising courses for in-service teachers and paper-setters and recommended that the medium of instruction at primary level should be mother tongue.

Prof Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, chairman of the Department of Social Work, University of Balochistan, said that education is considered to be a key factor for sustainable development, peace and prosperity of a society.

He said that the medium of learning plays a vital role in creating interest in the leaner. Majority of students come from Urdu medium schools but the available literature for their studies is in English, therefore they face problems in understanding the subject in depth, he said.

Dr Sabir Hussain Raja from Allama Iqbal Open University said that a Unesco meeting of specialists held in 1951 was of the considered opinion that education is best carried out in mother tongue.

He said that many studies had been carried out in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Pakistan which showed that English medium students, despite their higher initial ability, performed poorly when compared to their peers studying in mother tongue.

Prof Ms Erum Gul Jilani from the Department of Education, Bahauddin Zakaria University, said that a study involving 322 students revealed that the achievement of English medium secondary schools students was better than that of Urdu medium secondary school students.

Dr Ubaid Ali Khan, director of the Institute of Education and Research Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, said that medium of instruction and examination had remained a debatable issue for as long as one could remember and the issue was yet to be resolved.

He pointed out that the elite class favoured English but the middle and lower middle classes advocated Urdu to be declared medium of instruction and examinations. It was, however, an established fact that a student comprehends better in his native language, he stressed.

Prof Uzma Murad Panhwar, Dr Iqbal Panhwar, Dr Parveen Munshi, Dr Rafique Ahmed Memon and Abdul Sattar Gopang from Sindh University also spoke at the conference.

MUET: The Mehran University Teachers Association on Wednesday rejected the Model Universities Ordinance and demanded the upgradation of non-PhD professors, associate professors and meritorious professors who had been deprived of their due right by the HEC.

A general body meeting of the association criticised the undue interference of HEC in the universities' affairs and termed it an encroachment upon the academic the universities' freedom.

HEC was only an advisory body but it was trying to take control of the universities by threatening them with stopping or curtailing their grants, it said.

The meeting resolved to observe black day on Sept 5, against the HEC's policies and a two-hour pen down strike every Wednesday with effect from Sept 19, for an indefinite period. Dawn
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