English in Pakistani public education
Past, present, and future
The article reviews the past, present, and future position of English in the Pakistani language-in-education policy for the Pakistani government schools. The article first traces how the English language came to Pakistan, and underlines the social domains in which English is commonly used at the present time. The article highlights the fact that English has enjoyed the highest social position in Pakistan since the country’s establishment in 1947. Taking this fact into account, the article traces historically the status of the English language in the language-in-education policy for the government schools since 1947 to the present time. I argue that students from the elite and non-elite English medium schools end up being more literate in English and having better access to social mobility than the students from the Pakistani government schools because of the low quality education and the poor instruction of English as a subject taught through traditional teaching methods of imitation and memorization. In order to reduce the gap, although the recent National Education Policy (NEP 2009) of Pakistan has recommended not only teaching English as a compulsory subject in grade one onward but also using it as a medium of instruction in grade four onward for the content subjects such as science and mathematics in the Pakistani government schools, the current predicament of Pakistani public education raises questions and controversies about the successful implementation of the policy. The main suggestion of the paper is the fact that since teachers are the major agents of change in realizing such curriculum reforms at their classroom level (Fullan & Stiegelbauer, 1991), their perspectives, perceptions and attitudes must be sought as well as included in such policy making processes. Because the voices of Pakistani government teachers are overlooked in such top-down language policies, this paper implies that the their experiences, attitudes, and perspectives about the present and future role of English in public language-in-education policies need to be explored to better understand the potential future implications for Pakistani teachers and their education. Such steps not only make policies inclusive but also gauge how far such English initiatives are facilitative in raising the quality of education and developing English language literacy in Pakistan.
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