English – a colonial legacy

By: Ghulam Murtiza

It goes without saying that English is being used all over the world for communication. It is just a language. If you don’t speak fluent English, it doesn’t mean that you are not intelligent. Many countries of the world have achieved milestones without abandoning their local languages. In a country where literacy rate is below 60percent and millions of children are out of school but the policy makers are reluctant to use their local languages for legislation. The British introduced the civil services exam to effectively govern the Sub –continent and favoured some communities who had command over English.

Even though, the federal public service commission conducts viva voice in English to check the capabilities of candidates  while a candidate  can get a commission job in India without fluency of English. in the recent past , the owners of a famous café of Islamabad humiliated a manager for not speaking  good English. they even posted his video on social media which received condemnation from all segments of society . they should not have humiliated him for not speaking good English because it doesn’t define your capabilities . the incumbent president of USA had some fluency problems but millions of people voted for him. There is no denying the fact that china doesn’t prioritize English over local languages. In a country where a student having matric degree cannot write two sentences of English while the policy makers are discouraging local languages at the expense of English . can Pakistan make progress without patronizing its  local languages?  Or is English necessary for Pakistan to become a prosperous nation in the 21st century? Or are we capable to solve our problems through English? all our linguistic problems cannot be solved without patronizing the local languages by federal government .

Earlier , our policy makers wanted to declare urdu as a national language but the leadership of east Pakistan categorically rejected this idea which clearly shows  the importance of local language . currently , Bangladesh has become a rising economy of south Asia without patronizing English. the leadership of this country encourages local people  to use local languages for communication . a child always learns what he observes during his teenage .unfortunately, we ask our children to learn foreign languages while we always communicate with them through local languages .

Bilawal Bhutto zardari, a member of national assembly is trying to learn urdu for effective communication with masses. His English is fine but he cannot perform well in politics without learning local languages. He always consults with his  political advisor for a speech which is prepared in urdu to convey the agenda of his party .

Our policy makers have to take some decisions regarding the implementation of national language at grass root level. We can achieve milestones without patronizing English at the expense of local languages . we should devise some strategies regarding our curriculum rather than supporting English as a medium for instruction . Are we in position to abandon a colonial legacy which has been a parameter to check the abilities of citizens at every forum?

The writer is a freelance columnist, he can be reached at [email protected]