Saturday, February 26, 2005

ENGLISH: It should not be compulsory at B.A. level

Once in a while, we should question the obvious to bring about improvement.
For almost two centuries, we have been teaching English as a compulsory subject to B.A./B.Sc. students. The obvious reason was that it was the wish of the colonial rulers that we should not only learn their language but also absorb their literature and culture and become completely anglicized. No wonder, Urdu was taught only up to 8th class because they did not want any competition for their own language.
After Independence, Urdu moved upwards gradually and became compulsory up to 12th class. Not beyond that. Meanwhile, there has been no change in the status of English.
Of course, English is the key to higher learning in science and technology as well as in other fields. It is also the most widely used language in international relations and trade. However, in all these cases we need English merely as a language and that too at the functional level.
A student at the degree level needs advance study of his own major subjects as he is supposed to have learnt the basics of various subjects when he passed Higher Secondary examination. If he does not have an effective command of English even after 12 years of compulsory study, he cannot do it during the degree class. At the degree level, he should not be burdened with more of a language that he has already been learning and practicing for 12 long years.
Therefore, English should not be taught as a compulsory language at the degree level. Instead, there should be an option to learn the basics of any of the other modern languages, say German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean, etc. for science and technology students and Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Hindi, etc. for others. The basic knowledge of a modern foreign language will be very helpful when a student goes to the relevant country for higher studies, training or some course later in life. Learning a new modern language will be far more helpful than a little bit more of English.