ThesisPDF Available

Chronicles of the English Language in Pakistan: A discourse analysis of milestones in the language policy of Pakistan

Authors:
Master’s Program in Language and Culture in Europe
Department of Language and Culture
Linköping University
Sweden
Alia Amir
Chronicles of the English Language in Pakistan:
A discourse analysis of milestones in the language policy of
Pakistan
Supervisor: Dr. Nigel Musk
1 December 2008
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3
Contents
1 Introduction.........................................................................................................................6
1.1 Aim of the study……………………………………………………………………………………………………….6
1.2 Outline of the study.....................................................................................................7
2 Theoretical and Methodological Framework..............................................8
2.1 Social Constructionism............................................................................................ 8
2.2 Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………………………….8
2.3 The Data……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….9
3 The Colonial Discourses in British Indian Education, 1835...................... ..10
3.1 Colonial Education..................................................................................................10
3.2 The Orientalists and the Anglicists.................................................................... ..12
3.3 The Minute on Indian Education.........................................................................13
3.4 The Colonialists Discourses of Language Policy Documents..............................13
3.5 Superiority of the Language, Culture and Education............................................13
4 The 1970s............................................................................................20
4.1 The Symbolic Value of Urdu................................................................................20
4.1.1 The Medium of Instruction Controversy..............................................................21
4.2 The Constitution of Pakistan 1973.................................................................21
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5 The Discourses in Pakistani Education, 2008.........................................26
5.1 The Discourses in the Draft NEP 2008 ………………………………………………………………..27
5.2 Draft National Education Policy 2008…………………………………………………………………..27
6 Discussion and Conclusions......................................................................30
References…………………………………………………………………………………32
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1 Introduction
I have selected three important phases in Pakistani education with a spotlight on language policy. I
believe a brief introduction to the socio-linguistic situation of Pakistan is mandatory before we move
on.
Pakistan came into being on 14th August, 1947. Before its independence, Pakistan was a part of
British India together with modern-day India and Bangladesh. Pakistan was divided into two parts:
the East Wing (which acquired independence in 1971, and came into being as Bangladesh) and the
West Wing (comprising present-day Pakistan.) Present-day Pakistan has four provinces, each with a
provincial language, which are Sindhi, Baluchi, Pashto and Punjabi.
The official language of Pakistan is English which is used in important seats of government, the
judiciary, the armed forces, commerce and higher education. The Constitution of Pakistan is codified
in English. The Constitution relates Urdu and Pakistan on the basis of nationalism, and thus Urdu is
the national language of Pakistan. It is a multilingual country where bilingualism (multilingualism) is
a habitual affair even in the life of an average student. The medium of instruction in Pakistan at
higher education is exclusively through English.
1.1 Aim of the study:
In this thesis, I will be investigating educational policies with a focus on English as a medium of
instruction. The medium of instruction in Pakistan varies with respect to each province and the social
status of the school. Consequently, English is not taught only as a foreign language but is a medium
for upward mobility.
I will be investigating the chronicles of English as a medium of instruction in Pakistan both before
and after the partition (1947) of British India. I have selected three phases: the mid-eighteenth
century, the 1970s and the present decade. I will be tracing the similarities and differences in the
language policies of these eras, and identifying any patterns which transcend these eras. I shall deal
with each phase separately with a brief introduction and the rationale for their selection.
The Colonial period which I have marked as an important phase is before 1857; the First War of
Independence (also called the War of Mutiny). This is a period of the British East India Company
Rule, and indirect involvement of the British Crown. My thesis revolves around the principle that
language policy of an alien origin has played an important role in South Asian history which
segregated between the colonized and the colonizer, which later turned to the segregation of the
masses on the basis of Anglicised and non-Anglicised. I will also be looking at this segregation, in the
LPP documents of the present decade as well.
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The language policy of the 1970s will be analyzed for the patterns in contrast with the present
decade. The 1970s in Pakistan are a period of extraordinary chaos, beginning with a language-based
separatist movement in East Pakistan gaining independence in 1971, the execution of a deposed
elected prime minister and a nationalist language policy. Here, I would like to shed light on the
reason of my label “nationalist” for this policy , as this was the only policy which determined, and
made some concrete steps towards the establishment of Urdu as a medium of instruction, and Zia’s
reinforcement of Urdu as a symbol of nationalism and Islam. But ironically this could not be
implemented, in its true spirit either. This policy will not be dealt in detail, but the effect of its
annulations on the present decade, if any.
This decade will also be analyzed for patterns linked to the past colonial trajectories and the
continuity of policies in favour of the English language as a medium of instruction. I will also be
investigating the link between the present decade in relation to the interplay between colonial and
Post- colonial influences.
I would also like to bring forth the research carried on Pakistan’s language policy. The research
carried on colonial India is vast, with researchers like Robert Philipson, and his influential book
Linguistic Imperialism (1992). Pennycook (2001) also sheds light on the introduction of English
language in colonial context and its implications.
My contribution in this field is the comparison between the colonial and post-colonial policies with,
Discourse Analysis. The selection of the policies of 2008 is also an advancement in this paper, which
has helped in looking at the current policies in Pakistan.
1.2 Outline of the Study
This study consists of six chapters, the first of which is this introduction. The second chapter
presents the theoretical and methodological framework. The third chapter entitled “The discourses
in British Indian Education” examines how English language is discursively constructed in policy
documents. Thus the focus gradually narrows and zooms in on one policy document from that era,
that is, Macaulay’s Minute.
The Chapter 3 entitled “The 1970s”, starts off with the background and historical perspective of the
decade, with a focus on the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, and examines how language policy is
constructed. The Chapter 4 moves to the present decade in Pakistan with a brief introduction to the
global policies, like Education For All, and their role in current policies, but a focus on the draft
National Education Policy, 2008.
In the sixth and final chapter, the main results and analyses presented in chapters 3, 4 and 5 will be
summarised and discussed in the light of the aims laid out in this introduction.
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2 Theoretical and Methodological Frameworks
The perspective taken in this thesis is that, taken for granted terms like ’medium of instruction’ and
‘Language policy and planning’ are not static or neutral terms. The socio-historical construction of
the above mentioned categories is maintained, and changed through various discursive processes.
2.1. Social Constructionism
Social constructionism is a sociological theory of “everything that passes for knowledge in society”,
and developed by Berger and Luckmann (1966) in their book The Social Construction of Reality. This
book draws on symbolic interactionism, which was founded by Mead (1934). In his book Mind, Self
and Society. Essential to symbolic interactionism is the stance that we construct our own and each
other’s identities in everyday social interaction (Burr, 1995:10).
A major focus of social constructionism is to uncover the ways in which individuals and groups
participate in the creation of their perceived reality. The reality which is taken-for-granted thus hides
the fact that our knowledge of reality is constructed through human activities. The view of society
which they present is “as part of a human world, made by men, inhabited by men, in turn, making
men, in an ongoing historical process” (Berger and Luckmann, 1991: 211).
From a social constructionist viewpoint, we should be ever suspicious of our assumptions of
reality. All knowledge is derived from looking at the world from some perspective, for example, in
case of English as a medium of instruction, the status of the English language is taken for granted as
the lingua franca of the world or the language for progress. This paradigm becomes a source of
reconstructing a language policy, which in turn is the sedimentation of the social and discursive
processes. In the Pakistani context, the language policy, which affords Urdu and English a high
status, is the sedimentation of social and discursive practices. Another example from the Pakistani
context is that Urdu is taken to be the unquestionable language of national unity.
2.2 Methodology
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Within the aforementioned framework, I would be using the discourse analysis. The rationale of the
selection of this methodology is the identification of different discourses prevalent at different
periods of history. It also provides a tool for the critical analysis of texts in the context.
Let us first look at the terms, discourse and analysis. The term discourse analysis is etymologically
taken from the Latin word, discurrere meaning ‘to run back and forth’ and the Greek word analuein
meaning ‘to deconstruct’ (Wodak, 2000:4). This common sense meaning of the terms discourse and
analysis does not help in understanding the term discourse, identification of discourses and their
analysis, as applied in Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA).
Discourse Analysis is a hybrid field of inquiry. In Analysing Discourse, Fairclough defines discourse
as “ways of representing aspects of the world the processes, relations and structures of the
material world, the mental world of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and so forth, and the social world.
(Fairclough, 2003:125). Thus the representation of the structures of the material world of
thoughts, in the social context, is the focal point for a discourse analyst. Another definition of
discourse helps us to understand the processes in the method, i.e. discourse as “a way of talking
about and acting upon the world which both constructs and is constructed by a set of social
practices.” (Candlin & Maley 1997: 202).
The main feature of the discourse analysis in this study is to identify different discourses,
especially those related to the language policy in Pakistan, and English as a medium of instruction.
For example, in the British Indian policies, the colonialist discourse is identified.
The colonialist discourse among other things may include the superiority of the British by virtue of
their race, colour, language, religion and culture. These features may be put in place more openly or
implicitly. The varying features of a discourse may transcend one text and be carried over to
another, or totally disappear. The aim of this study is to observe the patterns appearing and
diminishing over time in the LPP documents of Pakistan.
2.3 The Data
The data analysed for the purpose of this study comprises of language policy documents. The
language policy documents have been taken from three different periods. The first period is British
India, represented by Macaulay’s Minute in 1853. The second period is from the post-independence
period, in the 1970s, represented by the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. The third period is taken
from the present decade which includes the Draft National Education Policy, 2008. All the policy
documents mentioned above are only available in English.
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3 The Colonial Discourses in British Indian Education
The British Indian period, combines both the Direct and Indirect Rule of the Crown till
independence of Pakistan. There were many reforms and language policies during this period, but I
have selected the Minute on Indian Education from the colonial era. I will be applying Discourse
Analysis and identifying colonial discourses, thus enforcing English linguistic imperialism (Philipson,
1990:47).
3.1 Colonial Education
The British presence in the subcontinent of South Asia started with an English Royal Charter
granted by Queen Elizabeth I to the Honourable East India Company in 1600, to operate in India for
fifteen years (Gardner 1971: 22-23). Nevertheless, the British followed the Arabs, the Turks, the
Persians and the Mughals
1
. At that time, the Persian language was the language of court and a
symbol of the Mughal rule in India (Rahman, 1999:90).
The British East India Company briefly displaced the presence of other European nations such as
the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the French (McGilvary, 2006: 6). In 1709, another rival company
merged with the British East India Company (Gardner, 1971: 49) and spread its wings from business
to the exploitation of power.
As Marx aptly illustrates, the confusion and struggle of the state of Indian governance at the time
British East India Company started its trade in India:
How came it that English supremacy was put in India? The paramount power of the Great
Mogal
2
was broken by the Mogal Viceroys. The power of the viceroys was broken by the
1
Rulers of India, of Mongol, Turkish and Persian origin. Also spelled as mogul and moghul.
2
Same as Mughal, moghul or mogul
10
Mahrattas
3
.The power of the Mahrattas was broken by the Afghans, and while all were
struggling against all, the Briton rushed in and was enabled to subdue them all. (Marx,
1959:29)
India with its diverse culture and indigenous languages was again at the mercy of another
invader. The previous invaders merged in the local culture but the British rulers elevated and
constructed an aura of racist supremacy. These invasions left a mark on Indian culture and
languages as well, but the presumed supremacy of the British culture and language by the
colonialists created a subaltern “other” to rule and subdue.
As Marx aptly illustrates:
Arabs, Turks, Tartars, Moguls, who had successively overrun India, soon became Hinduized,
the barbarian conquerors being, by an eternal law of history, conquered themselves by the
superior civilization of their subjects. The British were the first conquerors superior, and
therefore inaccessible to Hindu civilization. (Marx, 1959:30)
The complex linguistic situation of India was the fulcrum of political, social and nationalistic
pressures. This left its mark as Urdu (originally called Hindustani) (Cohn 1996: 33), which emerged as
an amalgam of Sanskrit and Persian and to a lesser degree from Arabic and Turkish. Paradoxically
exacerbating the political situation of India, the Urdu language emerged as a new language,
deviating from Hindi (Cohn, 1996: 35). The Urdu language carried a bewildering variety of labels
during the next two hundred years: Moors, Industan, Hindoostanic, Hindowee, Nagreeo, and Koota
(Cohn, 1996: 34).
I would like to highlight some of the advancements in the Company’s Rule: India imported the free
press, railroads, modern industry but also an education system which was foreign to the local
people. The Indians were at a disadvantage when the education system superimposed English as a
medium of instruction in some places, and those literate in Persian and Sanskrit were naturally
deemed unfit for the Civil Service and other positions in the government hierarchy because of the
introduction of English as an official language.
Before the arrival of the British, Muslim rulers ruled India from 711 A.D. (Blood, 1996:8). The
Muslim rulers were Arabs, Turks, Persians and Afghans, who brought with them their learning and
languages. The Muslims in India followed the Islamic tradition of learning through Maktab
4
and
Masjid
5
.
The Islamic tradition of learning was emphasized through first revelation of “Iqra
6
” meaning read.
The learning was emphasized in Hinduism as well. It was also based on “the oral tradition” rather
than the written form and based on Vedas
7
. The Indian learning was not formal school learning as
3
Also spelled as Marathas. People of South Indian origin.
4
Arabic word for elementary schools.
5
Mosque
6
Quran, 96:1. Translation by Shakir, retrieved in November , 2008
http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/096.qmt.html
7
Oldest sacred texts of Hinduism in Sanskirit
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we understand today, but based on discipleship and religion. Another aspect of Indian education
was the skill of rote learning:
Hindu and Muslim education alike, however, emphasized a relationship of personal
discipleship between pupil and teacher, and both exacted the learning by rote of sacred
texts in a classical language (Dakin, 1968:5).
3.2 The Orientalists and the Anglicists
The early British Indian educational policies were influenced by the Orientalists, who were in
favour of Persian, and “felt that teaching English would alienate the native intelligentsia and
precipitate a rebellion(Rahman, 1999:90).They worked in favour of learning the local languages
among the British camp as well. In 1781, the Calcutta Madrassah
8
was established by William
Hastings (the first Governor-General of India), with its entire expense borne by him for one and a
half years (albeit later reimbursed). The school taught Arabic, Persian and Muslim Law, and its
graduates were hired as interpreters. It would be worth mentioning some prominent Orientalists as
well e.g., John Gilchrist, William Hastings, and Charles Wilkins. (Cohn, 1996)
Fort William College was established by Lord Wellesley in 1800 as an academy and learning centre
of Oriental studies. It also aimed at training British officials in the Indian languages. John Gilchrist
landed in India as an assistant surgeon of the Company, took keen interest in Urdu (which was called
Hindostani at that time). He wrote the first dictionary and a grammar. Charles Wilkins was the
translator of Bhagvad Gita
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, the sacred Hindu book into English.
The change in language policy with a move away from Persian was gradual and led to controversies
among the British camp itself in the form of the Orientalists and the Anglicists. Let us see how the
controversy concluded:
[ Minute on Indian Education] ended the controversy between Anglicists and Orientalists in
favor of government funds being used in future exclusively to promote English-medium
education, is widely quoted as the epitome of cultural imperialism. (Whitehead, 1995:1)
According to another historian, the Orientalists worked for the progress of the local languages but:
The heat of the controversy, unfortunately for the people of India, obscured the fine work of
Mountstuart Elphinstone, Sir Thomas Munro, and B.H. Hodgson, who in the Bombay and Bengal
presidencies and in Bengal, had evolved educational schemes which could have advanced Indian
literacy” (Cutts,1959,853)
8
Arabic word for school
9
Sacred Hindu scripture in Sanskirit
12
Although Orientalists and Anglicists both differed in opinions to govern India, their actions
consolidated the British Empire.
3.3 The Minute on Indian Education:
Thomas Babington Macaulay, a member of the Supreme Council of India, presented his infamous
Minute on Indian Education, written in 1835 for Lord William Bentinck, Governor General of British
India. His advocacy of the English language for the Indian students was adopted by Bentinck
immediately, and remained a central educational policy of the British Raj. The policy also demanded
that all courses of study should be given through the medium of English to selected Indians. The
change in the official language to English suggested a shift in the power dynamics as well.
3.4 The Colonialists Discourses in Language Policy documents
The rationale of the selection of the mid-eighteenth century documents, as representative of the
colonialist discourse speaks volumes about Victorian ideologies. I will be focusing on colonialist
discourse representing the British colonialists who were in favour of English language as a medium
of instruction in India for a selected class of Indians. Another aspect of the colonialist discourses to
be explored is the characteristic of supremacy of the colonialist as a race, thus constructing the
other. This is put in place through the construction of English, as a means to enlighten and civilize
the Indians, who have an inferior language and culture. Macaulay’s Minute on Indian education and
Wood’s Despatch vie for the unquestionable and unquestioned status of English
T.B.Macaulay’s Minute on education is a pioneering educational policy set by the British Anglicist
colonial rulers for the Indians. It can also be considered as a nail in the coffin, which ended the
Orientalists and the Anglicists controversy, and caused a shift in British language policy in India. The
diktat of English as the medium of education for the Indians was part and parcel of this policy. The
positioning of the Minute towards the end of the controversy makes it vital for assessing the shift
from the Oriental languages and studying the language policy in India.
3.5 Superiority of Coloniser’s Language, Culture and Education
I will now go on to identify the colonialist discourses in Macaulay’s Minute, separating the aspects
where the superiority of education, language and culture of the coloniser is established. I will be
13
drawing on the definition of discourse in the Foucauldian sense, that is, “discourse as ways of
representing aspects of the world” (Fairclough, 2004: 124).
Let us now begin with a quotation from Minute on Indian Education and assess how the diktat of
English-language superiority was imposed by Macaulay and the Anglicists:
All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the
natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are,
moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarters, it will
not be easy to translate any valuable work into them. It seems to be admitted on all sides,
that the intellectual improvement of those classes of people who have the means of
pursuing higher studies can at present be effected only by means of some language not
vernacular amongst them. (Macaulay, 1853: 2)
In the above quotation, the dialects of India are interpellated as poor and rude. This interpellation
reinforces the colonialists’ notion of othering and discriminating the language and culture of the
colonized. This is argued through their lack of vocabulary and the lack of literary and scientific
information available in their “dialects”. Let us assess Macaulay’s claim of “poor and rude” local
languages and his conviction that “the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of
India contain neither literary nor scientific information”.
The languages which were used in the power domains in India were Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit.
Other languages which were used colloquially throughout India as a common medium by the Indians
were Hindustani (present day Urdu) and Hindawee (present day Hindi), for example. Persian, the
language of power, is not even talked about in the Macaulay’s Minute. The “implicit censorship”
performed by ignoring Persian confirms Macaulay’s and the Anglicists’ policy of negating Persian and
othering inferior languages.
Thus Macaulay claims the utilitarian value of English, as a superior language, for native Indians. The
notion of the superiority of European languages is imposed on the colonized, as Kipling bugles in his
poem, “the white man’s burden”.
Now that we have analyzed the aspect of language superiority enshrined in Minute on Indian
Education, as the colonialist discourse, I will now investigate Macaulay’s claim of “the other” culture
as subaltern and an object of the colonizer’s despise. I quote from the second paragraph of
Macaulay:
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It is argued or rather taken for granted, that by literature, the Parliament could have given the
honourable appellation of “a learned native” to a native who was fa miliar with the poetry of Milton,
the Metaphysics of Locke, and the Physics of Newton; but that they meant to designate by that name
only such persons as might have studied in the sacred books of the Hindoos all the use of cusa-crass,
and all the mysteries of absorption into the Deity. This does not appear to be a very satisfactory
interpretation.
The above quotation begins with a manifest intertextual (Fairclough 1992: 117) connection to the
British Acts of Parliament. This reference by Macaulay begins with the hint to the label of a “learned
native” by the Act of 1813, and the advocates who argued for the “honourable appellation of a
learned native”, the Orientalists. The 1813 Charter Act of the East India Company states:
A sum of not less than one lac of rupees in each year shall be set apart and applied to the founding
and maintaining of colleges, schools, public libraries and other institutions for the revival and
improvement of literature and encouragement of the learned natives of India and for the promotion
of a knowledge of the sciences among the British territories in India. (Charter Act of 1813)
This Act was a step towards the revival and improvement of the literature of India, and continuity
in British India as stipulated by the Orientalists. It not only catered for learning and education but
also promoted knowledge of the sciences for the natives of India. Hence the reference to “a learned
native in Minute on Indian Education reconstructs the natives of India .The reconstruction of a
learned native is implied through a comparison between the works of English literature and Hindu
mythology. Macaulay argues whether the Parliament would have meant “learned native” by
someone who would have known the uses of cusa- crass, a herb considered sacred by Hindus, or
someone through the concept of non-existence of a temporal being, and becoming one with the
Deity. The reference to cusa-crass,
10
and absorption in the Deity
11
is a direct reference to
Hinduism, but Macaulay’s argument is whether this type of learning is referred to in the Act of 1813.
His answer is, “This does not seem to be a satisfactory interpretation”. This hints at his stance of
negating the title of a “learned native“ as someone who would have the knowledge of the sacred
texts or rituals of Hinduism.
Mentioning British eminent figures of literature, science and philosophy, that is, Milton, Locke
and Newton, superimposes the superiority of British Imperialists, while the generalising of Hindu
books, creates a contrast. The reference to Indian meditation suggests an inferior culture. The
10
10
Kusa or kusha grass is the sacred seat for meditation. The biological name for this herb is Poa cynosuroides
Retzius.
http://www.ecoheritage.cpreec.org/04_01_Sacred%20trees%5C14_04_01_sacred_trees_kusha%20grass.htm
11
Reference to Nirvana or Yoga, when the self ceases to exist perpetually through temporal reality.
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mysteries of absorption into the Deity and the philosophy of Locke are juxtaposed to highlight the
colonialist’s philosophy as superior. This comparison constructs power differentials and creates a
divide between the colonizer and the colonized, the East and West, the traditional and the modern,
European and Asian. These presumed concrete boundaries take Macaulay to make a comparison
between Europe and another ancient civilisation:
To take a parallel case; suppose that the Pacha of Egypt, a country once superior in knowledge to the
nations of Europe but now sunk far below them, were to appropriate a sum or the purpose of
reviving and promoting literature, and encouraging learned natives of Egypt, would anybody infer
that he meant the youth of his pachalic to give years to the study of hieroglyphics, to search into all
the doctrines disguised under the fable of Osiris, and to ascertain with all possible accuracy the ritual
with which cats and onions were anciently adored? Would he be justly charged with inconsistency, if,
instead of employing his young subjects in deciphering obelisks, he were to order them to be
instructed in English and French languages, and in all the sciences to which those languages are the
chief keys? (Macaulay, 1853)
The above quotation presents the cultural hegemony of Europe through a contrast between
antiquated Egypt and “the nations of Europe”. To make his point, Macaulay asserts that Egyptian
knowledge which was once superior to European learning has now sunk far below it. Now that
this learning is no more superior, Macaulay questions whether the Pacha of Egypt would set apart
a sum of money for the youth in his country to study hieroglyphics? This interrogation suggests
that as Egyptian learning has “sunk far below”, no one would be wise enough to spend time on it.
This suggests the futility of any learning other than the learning of the “nations of Europe”. This
segregation of two cultural norms and learning is further put in place through “the doctrines
disguised under the fable of Osiris”. The fable of Osiris creates an aura of antiquity, and as
Macaulay suggests that the days of Egyptian learning are over, no one would search the canons
hidden under the fable of Osiris. Again Macaulay constructs Egyptian culture as an inferior culture
through its antiquated knowledge. This othering of Egyptian learning creates a superiority of the
learning of “the nations of Europe”.
Let us look at Macaulay’s statement of “reviving and promoting literature, and encouraging
learned natives of Egypt”. Macaulay alters the statement from the Charter Act of 1813, which states
“for the revival and improvement of literature and encouragement of the learned natives of India”.
The displacement of the collocation of the “natives of India” with the “natives of Egypt” creates a
similarity between the Egyptian and Indian race. This racial similarity is drawn through the
16
assumption that Indian learning, mythology and rituals are as antiquated and obsolete as those of
Egypt. The domination of the European languages and learning is emphasised through the
suggestion of “all the sciences to which those languages are the chief keys.” Referring to English and
French as “the chief keys” again, emphasises that the western languages are the key to modern
sciences. This creates superiority in contrast to the examples of Egyptian learning he mentions
earlier. This construction of dominance creates new categories and oppositions of colonizer and the
colonized, East and West, weak and powerful, modern and traditional, European and Asian.
The dominance of the colonizer is thus embedded in Colonial discourses, which is also evident
from C.E. Trevelyan’s
12
correspondence with Lord Bentinck, the Governor General of India in 1834:
It cannot be concealed that India is on the eve of a great moral change. The indications of it
are perceptible in every part of the country. Everywhere the same decided rejection of
antiquated systems prevails, everywhere the same craving for instruction in a better system
is to be perceived and the abolition of the exclusive privileges which the Persian language
has in the courts and affairs of court will form the crowning stroke which will shake Hinduism
and Mahommedanism to their centre and firmly establish our language, our learning and
ultimately our religion in India (Philips
Trevelyan rejects the “antiquated system”, which would be shaken to superimpose the British
language, learning and religion. Let us see how Trevelyan asserts the craving for change on moral
and religious grounds among the Indians and exaggerates the situation, repeating the word
“everywhere” twice. He uses “everywhere” to emphasise that there is a great demand for the
change. When Trevelyan twice asserts everywhere the same decided rejection of the antiquated
system prevails” and “everywhere the same craving for instruction in a better system”, he is not
telling us who is rejecting and who is craving and where is it being done. The nominalisation of the
verbs changes the tone and makes the statements more abstract. This nominalisation is deployed
again in the same sentence, the abolition of the exclusive privileges”.
. The change in language from Persian shifts the power to the colonialists. Thus the notion of
colonialist discourse is to strengthen the empire, and establish the colonialists’ language, learning
and religion.
Now that we have established the notion of the superiority of the colonialists’ language and
culture, let us assess another aspect of the supremacy of the colonialist, that is, education. Macaulay
hyperbolically suggests the supremacy of British educational policy, as evident from this quotation:
12
A writer of the East India Company in Bengal’s civil service
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/trevelyan_charles.shtml
17
The question before us is simply whether, when it is our power to teach this language, we shall teach
languages in which, by universal confession, there are no books on any subject which deserve to be
compared to our own; whether , when we can teach European science, we shall teach systems which,
by universal confession, whenever they differ from those of Europe, differ for worse; and whether,
when we can patronise sound Philosophy and true History, we shall countenance, at the public
expense, medical doctrines, which would disgrace an English farrier, astronomy, which would move
laughter in girls at an English boarding school, History, abounding with kings thirty feet high, and
reigns thirty thousand years long, and Geography, made up of seas of treacle and seas of butter.
The notion of supremacy of the Anglicists’ education is created through the “truth effect” of
power (Philips and Jorgensen, 2002: 7). “Truth” is understood here in the Foucauldian sense as a
system of procedures for the production, regulation and diffusion of statements. Thus the colonialist
truth of the supremacy of their language and culture is created through the subaltern others
inferior language and culture.
Let us see how Macaulay constructs European supremacy to advocate the Anglicists language
and education. Macaulay establishes the supremacy of European science, philosophy, history,
geography and astronomy, and compares European and non-European education through “we” and
“they”. This interpellates all non-European languages, books, subjects as one entity.
To focus on his argument of the supremacy of European knowledge, he stresses English is
superior because for the other languages “there are no books on any subject which deserve to be
compared to our own”. After asserting superiority of language, he contends for superior books. To
make his point further, he states that “there are no books on any subject which deserve to be
compared to our own”. This exaggerated statement which states that there are “no books” that can
be compared to our own again enforces the supremacy of European writing or books, as he suggests
that “whenever they differ from those of Europe, [they] differ for worse.” Macaulay refers to the
other seats of learning as “they”, which differentiates them from “those of Europe” In summary, the
picture of perfect and superior European learning is put in place.
Macaulay comes to the conclusion that the other’s “medical doctrines” would even disgrace an
English farrier”. The absurdity of the other’s astronomy is suggested through the assumption that it
would “move laughter in girls at an English boarding school.” The words “disgrace” and “laughter”
create a truth effect for “the oriental.” This judgment is instrumental in Macaulay’s point of view of
establishing western learning as a better system for the Orient.
Macaulay declares:
I would strike at the root of the bad system which has hitherto been fostered by us. I would at once
stop the printing of Arabic and Sanscirit books, I would abolish the Madrassa and the Sanscirit College
at Calcutta. Benares is the great seat of Brahamanical learning; Delhi, of Arabic learning. If we retain
the Sanscirit College at Benares and the Mahometan College at Delhi, we do enough, and much more
than enough in my opinion, for the Eastern languages.
18
Here Macaulay finally declares his aim of eliminating the “root of the bad system”. This
metaphorically charged statement reflects Macaulay’s motives and ambitions. By abolishing two
important seats of Oriental learning, the Madrassa and the Sanscirit
13
college, Macaulay asserts the
abolition of old systems of learning and heralds a change in education. The collocation “Arabic and
Sanscirit” resonates through the policy documents, by repetition of this combination in Minute on
Indian Education. Its repetition creates two effects: firstly through their frequent combination an
effect of partnership is created which suggests similarity. The other hint that we get from this
partnership is “the invisibility” of Persian in the Minute. The language of the Mughal court, which is
displaced through English, is implicitly held back.
In fact, the death of the Persian language heralded a new era, when Bentinck immediately
adopted Minute on Indian Education as an educational policy. I will again refer to the Minute as a
nail in the coffin which ended an era of Oriental learning and languages, but it is also referred to as
the period of the “death of Persian.” I would like to quote Matthew Arnold from his poem, “The
Pagan World” to depict the recapitalisation of Indian education through Anglicisation:
The East bowed low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain;
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again.
19
4 The 1970s
As seen from the colonial polices, the language situation of the subcontinent was diverse and
complex. The purpose of my study is not the language- based issues of the independence
movement, the making of Pakistan or partitions itself, and the representation of languages in LPP
documents. Therefore I shall now move forward to the period in the history of Pakistan which I
believe has left its mark on future language policy and planning.
Let us for the sake of clarity, and continuity of the events taking place in Pakistan before 1970s,
zoom in on the language -based division of Pakistan on the eve of independence. Pakistan consisted
of two wings: East Bengal
14
(now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (now Pakistan). East Pakistan and
West Pakistan were situated geographically miles apart. Besides the administrative problems, the
language issues starting emerging between the East and West wing right after independence.
After independence from the British Raj, Pakistan was challenged by Bhasha Andolan, the
Bengali
15
Language movement, in 1948 and 1952. The declaration by the state that “Urdu alone
would be the state language of Pakistan” led to widespread protests. The Bengali Language
movement was suppressed, and on February 21, 1952, some activists were killed by the police in
Dhaka. According to the census of 1952, Bengali speakers formed 54% of the population, which was
the majority. According to Tariq Rahman, Bengali nationalism rose in response to perceived West
Pakistani domination and internal colonialism, which led to the birth of Bangladesh in 1971
(Rahman,1997:836). The making of Bangladesh simplified the language situation in Pakistan, as the
tussle between Urdu and Bengali was over.
4.1 The Symbolic Value of Urdu
The language situation in Pakistan with regards to Bengali was simplified although there were
other language movements emerging. To understand this complex situation, and to keep our focus
14
British Indian province of Bengal was divided into two: East and West. West Bengal acceded to India and the
East to Pakistan.
15
Bengali is the language spoken by people in Bangladesh.
20
on English as a medium of instruction, we need to be familiar with the alternative medium of
instruction available to majority of people of Pakistan. It would also be valuable to assess the
symbolic value of Urdu after independence. Let us see how Rahman illustrates the language
situation of Pakistan:
Linguistically, [then] Pakistan faces two directions: India----because the roots of its languages are
Dravidian and Indo-Aryan as well: and the Middle East -----because its scripts and vocabulary owe much to
Arabic and Persian.
With the rationale of the independence movement for Pakistan (also called the Pakistan
movement) based on religious grounds, the Urdu language arose as a symbol of Muslim nationalism.
The making of Pakistan strengthened this identity, and Urdu was capitalised to integrate the diverse
nationalities of Pakistan (Rahman, 1999:93).This capitalisation of Urdu by the ruling elite othered the
vernaculars, as we have seen in the case of Bengali.
4.2 The Medium of Instruction Controversy
Let us now distinguish the othering of vernaculars by Urdu and also English and its historical
perspective in British India. As we have seen in the case of enthusiasm for Anglicisation, the
vernaculars were neglected in the early nineteenth century. Although the Indian nationalist
politicians supported vernaculars, they were divided in their support for Urdu and Hindi. Thus
Hindus supported Hindi whereas Muslims supported Urdu in British India.
Another colonial policy, Wood’s Despatch of 1854 pronounced that western knowledge should be
imparted through English. Also, higher education continued to be in English. The elitist jobs, like
those within the Indian Civil Service (ICS) were only available through English, to which Indians
aspired. The masses were educated through vernaculars, and could only become a part of the lower
levels of bureaucracy. The medium of instruction controversy can thus be understood in the light of
the power struggles between the sections of salariat (Rahman, 1999:92). The term salariat is used
for the class of wage earners. In India, the upper salariat was a select privileged class to acquire
education through English medium. This trend divided the masses into the upper and lower salariat.
4.3 The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973
21
As we have seen, variant problems and controversies surround the selection of a national language
and medium of instruction in Pakistan. Let us turn to the Constitution of Pakistan to shed light on the
legal status of the languages in Pakistan.
The Constitution of Pakistan 1973 states:
251(1) The National Language of Pakistan is Urdu and arrangements shall be made for its being used
for official and other purposes within fifteen years from the commencing day.
251(2) Subject to clause (1), the English language may be used for official purposes until
arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu.
251(3) Without prejudice to the status of the National language, a Provincial Assembly may by law
prescribe measures for the teaching, promotion and use of a Provincial language in addition to the
National language.
The Article 251 Clause (1) reminds us that the national language of Pakistan is Urdu and brings us
to a nationalist discourse.
By nationalist discourse, I mean discourses closely associated with the building of Pakistan as
a nation with one language. This in many ways reflects the processes involved in the creation
of the modern European nation-states. In case of the LPP documents, the nationalist
discourse is built through Urdu as a national language.
First let us consider how Urdu is placed in the Constitution, by what is said and what is not being
said. The first clause creates a homogenous country with citizens ideally speaking Urdu, as it is the
national language. It states that Urdu would be used in all official domains within the following
fifteen years, which means till 1988. It would be made the official language, but until then English
could remain the official language not de jure, but de facto.
Let us first consider the differences in the clauses. Urdu would replace English as an official
language. This implies that everyone working in the government offices would know English or those
who would be working, should know English, the stipulated period by which the arrangements
would have been made for Urdu to function as an official language.
22
The aforementioned clauses of the Constitution do not explicitly suggest Urdu or English as the
medium of instruction. In fact, it does not even mention, which language is to be used for
education, recalling the question put forth by Macaulay: “What then shall that language be?” It does
however say “and other purposes” which could well include education. Another statement made by
Macaulay, which resonates here is the following: “We have to educate a people who cannot at
present be educated by means of their mother-tongue.” However, the constitution does mention
the teaching and promotion of a provincial language along with the national language, but it does
not distinguish between teaching a language as a subject and using a language as a medium of
instruction.
Now let us look at the similarities and differences between the Constitution and Macaulay’s
statement quoted above. The similarity which emerges between the two is that they are both
makeshift propositions as the Constitution states “arrangements shall be made” for Urdu to be
made the official language. We can assume that Urdu as an official language would be the language
of education and instruction, but it suggests that temporarily it is not possible. The statement
quoted above from Macaulay’s Minute also refers to the people who cannot at present be
educated” by means of their mother-tongue. The arrangements for languages in both the
documents are temporary; however Macaulay does not advocate any switch later on time. The
Constitution approves English but for a limited time period. Macaulay, however, regards only English
being practicable as a medium of instruction within the foreseeable future, and does not advocate
any change later in time.
Let us look at the third Clause of the same Article, to observe what is being said and not being said
here. In this Clause, the “national language” is used twice, which reinforces the place of Urdu as a
national language. It also suggests that all Pakistanis should know Urdu, since it is the national
language, or be bilingual or multilingual. Let us see how the other languages of Pakistan are
mentioned in the Constitution. The status of “provincial language” here can only be assumed to
mean the four majority languages, which are Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi, and Pashto.
According to the Census of Pakistan, 1998, Urdu is the mother tongue of 7.57% of the population,
Punjabi 44.15 %, Sindhi 14.1%, Pushto 15.42%, Balochi 3.57%, Saraiki 10.53% and others 4.66%. The
Census tells us there are only a small number of Pakistanis with Urdu as their mother tongue, but
this does not mean that the number of Pakistanis with Urdu as a second or third language is
minimal. The statistics do not, however, indicate the number of Urdu speaking population all over
Pakistan. It should be noted here, as well, that the percentage indicated for population with Urdu as
a mother tongue cannot be taken for granted. The main problem in giving meaning to these
23
statistics is that mother tongue in Pakistan is popularly considered to be the language of one’s
mother. In the case of Pakistanis, it does not necessarily mean that the mother tongue has been
transferred to the next generation as well. Moreover, some unreliable statistics tell that Urdu is the
second or third language of most of Pakistanis.
The Constitution implies that all Pakistanis might know other Pakistani languages but the
knowledge of the other languages should be “without prejudice to the status of the National
language.” This nationalist discourse hails all Pakistanis into loyal and patriotic beings. We can recall
here, the Fall of Dacca, and the controversy Urdu created among Bengali-speaking Pakistanis (at that
time). For the sentiments of nationalism, Urdu represents here a unifying symbol for the whole of
Pakistan. However, it is being done at the expense of other languages. The Constitution states: “the
teaching, promotion and use of a Provincial language in addition to the National language”. It
suggests that the provincial languages could be taught (implicitly as a subject), and can be promoted
and used, but Urdu has to be there as a compulsory subject.
Let us again analyse the third clause of Article 251. There is no hint of any provincial language to
be used as a medium of instruction, thus we can assume that either Urdu or English would be the
medium of instruction. Since the Constitution does not clarify whether the provincial languages
mentioned are to be used for official purposes, it can be taken for granted that they are not official
languages. The role of these languages in education is ambiguous as well. It does not state from the
word “learning”, whether the learning of any provincial language is in formal school settings, or
learning a second (or third) language as an adult. This leaves ample chance to interpret and
implement this as the requirements change and political status of the language changes.
Further examination of the third clause of the Constitution also suggests that Urdu as a national
language should not be discriminated against. Thus loyalty to the nation here is constructed as
loyalty to Urdu. It hails into being a homogenous country with citizens ideally speaking Urdu, as it is
the national language. This interpellation of Pakistanis as literate in Urdu also suggests that by law if
they fall under any provincial unit, and the provincial assembly has made available the teaching of a
provincial language, then the learning of that language would be possible. This also suggests that if
those units which do not fall under any provincial territories like the Federal capital, that is
Islamabad, then there would be no teaching, promoting or use of any provincial languages. The
areas which do not belong to any province are Azad Kashmir, Federally Administered Territories
Areas (FATA) and Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA).
24
Let us now look at the role of the provincial languages as stated in the Constitution as regards
Urdu. The Constitution draws a contrast between Urdu and provincial languages, that is, Urdu as a
compulsory language, and in addition to Urdu. This imbalance between Urdu and other provincial
languages draws a similar contrast as seen in Macaulay’s Minute, between English and other
vernacular languages, and classical languages as well. This pattern of othering emerges in the
Constitution between Urdu and the provincial languages. Urdu, the first language of a minority is
elevated here to the status of the national language. English is also elevated to the language of
officialdom, only temporarily.
This segregation can be seen in the light of Colonial segregation, where the colonised and the
coloniser are divided on the basis of a superior language. As seen in Macaulay’s Minute, the
supremacy of English on the basis of a superior education and literature were discursively
constructed. But as the making of Pakistan was on the basis of one nation, the idea of one language
which could unite Pakistan was floated. This hints at the Eurocentric monolingual and monocultural
bias where it is assumed that every individual has one and only one ethnolinguistic identity: s/he
speaks one language (the mother tongue), and has therefore only one ethnic identity. (Blommaert,
1996:208)
This notion of a nation with one national language: Urdu is the hallmark of the Constitution.
Urdu plays the language of mediation and negotiation between Pakistanis. The Constitution as
regards the national language is still in effect.
25
5 The Discourses in Pakistani Education, 2008
In Pakistan, parallel education systems run throughout the country with bilingualism (also
multilingualism in some schools) playing an important role. The education systems are divided on
various grounds, for instance, according to the medium of instruction. The major division between
schools in Pakistan is by public and private sector education provision. But a variation of elitist
schools, Madrassahs
16
and Mosque schools can also be found. The structure of the education
system, according to the Ministry of Education can be divided into the following stages: elementary
(including both primary and middle), secondary (including both high and intermediate), pass degree
and postgraduate studies (including Master’s and PhD levels) (Ministry of Education of Pakistan).
17
There are two major mediums of instruction at the national level, that is, English and Urdu. The
Urdu-medium schools provide schooling in all subjects in Urdu. On the other hand, the English-
medium schools offer all subjects in English from kindergarten to matriculation. The only exceptions
are the subjects Urdu and Islamiat
18
. Islamiat is a subject which incorporates learning about Islam
and the Quran
19
. The reading of Quranic text means a superficial knowledge of Arabic, without
comprehension and translation.
As there are four provinces in Pakistan, each province offers schooling in their respective
languages as well, namely, Punjabi
20
, Sindhi
21
, Pashto
22
Baluchi
23
, and some other languages.
16
Madrassahs are Islamic seminaries where Quran, classical Arabic and Persian is taught with either Urdu or
one of the major provincial languages as medium of instruction. English is not taught at any level.
17
http://www.moe.gov.pk/soedusyspk.pdf
18
Islamiat means Islamic studies
19
Holy book of Muslims
20
Punjabi is the major language of the Punjab province, which has the largest population.
26
5.2 The Discourses in the Draft National Education Policy 2008
Let us see how the draft National Education Policy 2008 deals with the issue of LPP, but before
moving on to the analysis of the draft, I shall define the discourses relevant to this policy:
By globalising discourses I mean discourses where English is deemed important for progress
and development. This generalisation of the market value of English with respect to
democracy and modernisation, belong to globalisation processes. In the LPP documents, I
have focussed on how English is deemed necessary for competition and modernisation.
By nationalist discourse, I mean discourses closely associated with the building of Pakistan as
a nation with one language. This in many ways reflects the processes involved in the creation
of the modern European nation-states. In case of the LPP documents, the nationalist
discourse is built through Urdu as a national language.
5.3 The Draft National Education Policy 2008
With reference to the above mentioned discourses, we shall now investigate ways in which English
is discursively constructed in the most recent national education policy. The Draft 2008 National
Education Policy (NEP) is the policy presented by the Education Minister Ehsan ul Haq
24
of the
political party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz
25
. The elected government was a coalition
between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, at the time of the
presentation of the Draft NEP 2008. It is also paramount to note that the preparation of the policy
was carried out by the previous military government of General Musharraf
26
. The Policy is based on a
consultation process started in 2005 and a series of green papers.
21
Sindhi is the major language of Sindh province. But with immigrants from India in 1947, Urdu speaking
people settled in Sindh as well.
22
Pashto is the language of North Western Frontier Province ( N.W.F.P.) or Sarhad.
23
Baluchi is the language of Baluchistan province.
24
Pakistan Muslim League minister for education has retired as the coalition government between PPP and
PML is no more intact.
25
Ruling political party
26
The President of Pakistan, who resigned in May, 2008. He came to power in 1999, as a result of a military
coup d’état.
27
I shall now go on to explore how the language policy is being discursively constructed in the most
recent educational policy document, yet to be implemented, in Pakistan. The policy declares English
as a subject from class one onwards, and as a medium of instruction for science and mathematics
from class 4 onwards. (Draft NEP 2008:30). After an initial reference to the existing policy
framework (1998 2010), and a justification to review it, well before its time span in 2010, the vision
of the state is pronounced. Let us look at this vision, set out in the introduction of this 62-page
document.
Education is a categorical imperative for individual, social and national development that
should enable all individuals to reach their maximum human potential. The system should
produce responsible, enlightened citizens to integrate Pakistan in the global framework of
human centered development.
The” vision of the STATE on education” is that education is deemed important for “individual,
social and national development.” The stress on the importance of education for an individual is
asserted here through “categorical imperative”. The stress on education further leads to
development of the self in the context of “social and national development”, which is in turn linked
to achieving “human potential”. This is also deemed necessary for “citizens to integrate Pakistan”,
which construct a nation with uniformity .The nationalist discourse, is expressed by reference to
“national development” and “integrate Pakistan in the global framework”. The collocation “integrate
Pakistan” suggests homogeneity with respect to the globalisation and the market value of education.
This in turn leads to another feature thus evident here, with respect to globalisation. The “global
framework” hails Pakistanis into the global community, where education is deemed necessary for
human centered development.
As the focus of our attention is English as a medium of instruction, let us look how the market
value of English is discursively constructed in the following paragraph from the draft NEP:
English is an international language, and important for competition in a globalized world order. Urdu
is our national language that connects people all across Pakistan and is a symbol of national cohesion
and integration. In addition, there are mother tongues/ local vernaculars in the country that are
markers of ethnic and cultural richness and diversity. The challenge is that a child is able to carry
forward the cultural assets and be at the same time able to compete nationally and internationally.
Globalization and Competitiveness
The total effect of Urdu is unifying, and hails Pakistanis into one cohesive unit. This unifying effect
is created through words like, “national”, “connects”, “cohesion”, “integration”, “symbol” and
“across Pakistan”. Let us look how these words create one nation through one national language.
The language policy in Pakistan has been controversial and essentially moving towards the blue-print
of European nation-state. Thus language planning essentially has political underpinnings. Let us look
how this concept is defined by Cooper: Language planning refers to deliberate efforts to influence
the behaviour of others with respect to the acquisition, structure or functional allocation of their
language” (Cooper, 1996:45). As we have seen, Urdu was also superimposed in the early 70s as a
national language through the integration assumption. As in the case of many post-colonial states,
assigning more than one or two languages to the purposes of administration, education, the media
and economic life, etc. was deemed as unworkable and unmanageable (Blommaert, 1996: 210-211).
The integration assumption entails an essentialist or “organic view of language and society”
28
(Blommaert, 1996:212).Thus given the assumed language-culture link, an official policy of
multilingualism would act as “a centrifugal force” and rouse ethnic political aspirations (211-212).
Let us now turn our attention to how English is being discursively constructed in the LPP
document. English is deemed as a language “important for competition”. The word “competition”
suggests the value of English in the world market, and an efficiency assumption (Blommaert, 1996
:210) is based on a “globalized world order”, whereby English is the working language of world
business. Another “challenge“ for a child is “to compete nationally and internationally”, which
implicitly hints at Urdu and English as the two languages necessary for success in Pakistan.
Let us now look at the progress of English as a medium of instruction from the 70s to the
present decade. In Zia’s Islamisation of Pakistan, in 1979, he declared Urdu to be the medium of
instruction for all examinations starting in 1989, but the decision was reversed. This reversal of the
decision can also be taken as a nail in the coffin. In a similar context, the question of Urdu to be the
medium of instruction in the higher education is finally sealed in the draft NEP 2008. My assumption
that Urdu will be finally taken over by English as a medium for science can be reinforced through the
policy action of the LPP document yet to be implemented: English shall be employed as the medium of
instruction for sciences and mathematics from class IV. (Draft NEP, 2008)
This statement from the draft NEP 2008 declares English to be the medium for instruction for
science and mathematics, starting from primary classes. This has in fact bridged the gap between the
English and Urdu medium schools, with the only difference between the initial three years of
schooling. This has gradually changed from the initial policies of Pakistan, for example in 1979, which
declared Urdu to be the medium of instruction. The above mentioned quotation thus reinforces this
argument that since the 1970s English is implicitly more in demand than ever before. We can
understand this demand in the light of the importance of English for globalisation and competition.
The above declaration of the draft NEP 2008, in turn also means that all the job openings in upper
and lower levels of bureaucracy, will be open to the English-speaking population only. We can
assume that when this policy is to be put in place later this year, it will reinforce the attitude among
the masses that there is a need for more English instruction. It can also be assumed that if this policy
is put in place this year, the question of Urdu has been implicitly shunned for the next term, recalling
Arnold in his poem, the Pagan World:
She broke her flutes, she stopped her sports,
Her artists could not please;
She tore her books, she shut her courts,
She fled her palaces
29
Discussion and Conclusions
The focus of this dissertation is the language policy in Pakistan in three different eras. It is also part
of this study to trace the similarities and differences in the eras selected. In these three different
periods of history, the core value remained to segregate the language of education or the medium of
instruction among the masses. The theme of “divide and rule” remained an essential language policy
during the colonial period as well as the post-independence period of internal colonialism. Education
in the colonial period was geared to staffing the civil service and producing educated elite that
shared the values of and was loyal to the British. The education system thus divided the masses
between upper and lower salariat. The colonial legacy has been carried forward by the ruling class in
Pakistan with an exclusive English-medium education for those who can afford it, but on the other
hand, an Urdu or vernacular-medium education for the masses.
The colonial discourses were marked by a sense of supremacy of the colonialists’ race, language
and culture. This racist trend was the hallmark of colonialists discourses, markedly evident in
Macaulay’s Minute. This notion of superior race and culture disappears, however, in the 1970s and
the present decade’s LPP documents, whereas the segregated language policy remains an essential
element implicitly. Another discourse which emerges in the post-independence era is the nationalist
discourse which constructs Pakistan as a nation unified by one language: Urdu. This essential theme
emerges in the aforementioned eras LPP documents. The core element of these nationalist
discourses is the national unity of Pakistan, where more than one language threatens national unity,
as seen in the case of othering East Bengal by declaring Urdu as the national language. However, the
making of Bangladesh simplified the Urdu-Bengali controversy. The dilemma of this situation was the
complexity of identifying a national language between four provincial languages, English as the
colonial legacy, Arabic as an Islamic identity and Urdu as a symbol of newly found Muslim
nationalism. This in place was complicated by the 1973 Constitution which declared Urdu (the
national language), to be the official language within fifteen years, but English as the de facto official
language, until arrangements could be made.
It was also found in this study that the LPP documents implicitly reinforce English as the medium of
instruction for higher education, as well as the subjects of science and technology. The status of
English has thus become unquestionable for higher education. Urdu is the de jure national language.
30
The time frame of fifteen years stipulated for Urdu to become the official language has passed.
English is still the de facto language of power. This policy of differentiating between those that can
afford it and those that cannot creates a similar divide that was created between the colonizer and
the colonized. English is for the ruling class, and Urdu and other languages for the masses.
A discourse which emerged as a feature of the present decade was the globalising discourse. The
importance of English language as a language of power, commerce, science and technology has been
reinforced through the current policy. The globalising discourse further strengthens English linguistic
Imperialism and clashes with the policy of Urdu as a medium of instruction all over Pakistan. I am
not suggesting that Urdu as a language of education is practical or not, but the trend after the 1970s
suggests the taken-for-granted supremacy of English as a language for science and higher education.
This policy implicitly again suggests English for those who can afford it.
31
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... The unpredictable attitude of the government is obvious with the fact that since the creation of Pakistan, It had issued 22 policy credentials on language in education policies (Rahman, 2004). In her dissertation on the language policy of Pakistan, Amir (2008) discussed the medium of instruction in educational policies of Pakistan. She mentioned that English is not used as a foreign language but it is mainly used as a medium of upward mobility, it creates class differences. ...
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Pakistan is an ideologically inspired state and Urdu was a part of this ideology. During the development of Muslim separatism in British India it had become a symbol of Muslim identity and was the chief rival of Hindi, the symbol of Hindu identity (Brass, 1974: 119–81. Thus, after partition it was not surprising that the Muslim polemical and methodologically unreliable books. Some of them are, indeed, part of the pro-Urdu campaign by such official institutions as the National Language Authority, because of which they articulate only the official language policy (Kamran, 1992). Other books, especially by supporters of Urdu, invoke simplistic conspiracy theories for explaining the opposition to Urdu. One of them is that the elitist supporters of English have always conspired to protect it in their self-interest; the other that ethno-nationalists, supported by foreign governments, communists and anti-state agents, oppose Urdu (Abdullah, 1976; Barelvi 1987). While such assertions may be partly true, the defect of the publications is that no proof is offered in support of them.
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A version of this paper was first presented in December 1993 at the annual conference of the Australia New Zealand Comparative and International Education Society held at the University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia. For more detail on this theme see my essay ; ‘British colonial education policy: a synonym for cultural imperialism?’, in J. A. Mangan, ed., Benefits Bestowed? Education and British Imperialism(Manchester University Press, 1988), 211–30.