Prospects of Mother Tongue as Medium of Education in Pakistan: A Case Study
Almost seven thousand distinct languages are used in 196 countries on the earth and almost half of these languages exist with writing systems. In this situation, debate on introducing education in mother tongue or proposing mother tongue in education has become one of the critical issues among the scholars of Social Sciences such as Phillipson (1992), Pattanayak (2003), Woldemariam (2008) and Moyo, (2008) and Coleman (2010). This disputation has also become critical in the religious, ethnic and linguistically diverse terrains of Pakistan whose linguistic fabric consists of more than sixty languages (Shehzad et al. 2013). Declaration of Urdu as the national language and English the official language not only evoked the speakers of other languages spoken in the country but also resulted into language movements including the movements of Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Punjabi and Saraiki languages. Although these were ad hoc movements, they gave rise to the notion of adopting mother tongue for education in some parts of the country such as Sindh, KPK and Baluchistan provinces. These demagogic decisions caused serious damage not only to the speakers, but also to their languages. As English remained the symbol of prestige and Urdu was supported for national cohesion, ghettoization of the speakers of other languages resulted into social, linguistic and education apartheid in the country. This paper aims to explore linguistic, socio-linguistic and socio-political implications of both education in mother tongue and mother tongue in education in Pakistan that would further lay some sound basis for the argument in other multilingual countries also. The current paper presents the multilayered model of the linguistic diversity in Pakistan which may support viability of mother tongue in education but also questions the idea of education in mother tongue due to some serious sociolinguistic, socio-political and linguistic implications.