Medium of Instruction

A question we are still grappling after 62 years is, what should be the medium of instruction in Pakistan

by Sultan Muhammad


In Dhaka Quid-e-azam said “let me make it very clear to you that the state language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. Anyone who tries to mislead you is really the enemy of Pakistan. Without one state language, no nation can remain tied up solidly together and function. Look at the history of other countries. Therefore, so far as the state language is concerned, Pakistan's shall be Urdu. (Jinnah 1948 : 89).”

The purpose of my research is to explore the important issue which Pakistan face since it independence in 1947. Education plays a vital role in the development of nations and society. Education promotes the social and economic life of the nation. Education is the back bone of any nation who wants to be a model country in the today world

For this purpose good education is very necessary and for good education a society or nation need a good medium of instruction. Which could help a teacher to achieve his goal and nourish the minds of the children and prepare them for the society and transform them in to a better citizen.

By definition “Medium of instruction is the language that is used in teaching. It may or may not be the official language.”

“Ishfaq Ahmad – Communication, expression and the capacity to listen should be first encouraged in the mother tongue and then in the official or national “

According to the experts the best medium of instruction is the mother tongue of the students. Use of the second language will effect their learning ability and they will left behind those who are learning in their mother tongue, According to Prof Mujib of Jamia Millia (Delhi), when a child is learning in a second language he translate a world in 17 seconds from foreign language to his mother tongue and then retranslate to the forgin language in other words when a student is talking to his teacher it take him 34 second to translate and retranslate. So imagine how much time he is wasting instead of direct approach.

Education creates leader in the Society, who lead the nation toward a better future In Pakistan, after more than six Decades, we have not produced good leader who could lead us. Due to the lack and quality of education in Pakistan, The Quality of education is low comparatively to other countries of the region. We have all type of issues related to education but the more serious one that hinder our whole education system, which is responsible for the destruction of education system in Pakistan is, the medium of instruction. From the last 60 years we have not decided what should be our medium of instruction? Every party when came in to power impose her own education policy and bring new changes in the education system without involving real educationist who know about the process of education. Instead, a few bureaucrats tickle this important issue and take decisions on the basis of their own interest not for the nation.

Psychologist are clear and recommend mother tongue as a medium of instruction because they say language and cognitive development are inter related and child learning best happened in mother tongue because it is a very direct approach towards learning..

The question is still there, why after 60 we could not adopt one language as medium of instruction in our country, although we have selected Urdu as our official language from the very beginning. In Dhaka Quid-e-azam said “let me make it very clear to you that the state language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. Anyone who tries to mislead you is really the enemy of Pakistan. Without one state language, no nation can remain tied up solidly together and function. Look at the history of other countries. Therefore, so far as the state language is concerned, Pakistan's shall be Urdu. (Jinnah 1948 : 89).” But still we are far away from our goal to choose a single as medium of instruction in Pakistan. Every new government prepares new education policy and tries to change the old policy and bring about major changes in medium of instruction. Here the question is why we are not able to select a single language as medium of instruction in Pakistan, what are the reasons and obstacles? From where, this language controversy started. Who are behind the scenes that don’t want to implement one language as a medium of instruction? How could we address this problem to put the education of Pakistan in the right direction?

History of language controversy in Pakistan

At the time of independence of Pakistan the issue of language also emerged, Urdu was declared the official language of Pakistan while the official business continued in English,

Dr. Shahidullah begins the language controversy in Pakistan and the movement of Bengali language by publishing a booklet in Dhaka on 15 September 1947, titled, Pakistaner Rashtra Bhasha Bangla na Urdu

He proposed that;

1. Bengali language shall be the medium of instruction and court communication in East Pakistan

2. Official language of office communication

3. The official language of the central government shall be Urdu and Bengali. (Tamaddun Majlis 1947 : 1-2).

After the victory of the United Front in East Pakistan, in the 1st constitution Urdu and Bengali was declared the official languages of Pakistan on the condition for another twenty years from the day of Constitution, English shall continue as official language too. After ten years from the Constitution Day, “the President shall appoint a committee to make recommendations for the replacement of English (Constitution of Pakistan 1956 “


Pakistan is a multilingual country and right now we have two parallel medium of instruction in Pakistan

1. Urdu medium

2. English medium

Today every province of Pakistan, operate various languages at various levels, it operates in three and some times in four languages. First each province has its own regional language as language of every day communication; And in schools Urdu as language of instruction. English as a language of official business and language of instruction in the higher education

What should be the language of instruction in Pakistan and why

* Mother tongue should be the language of instruction in school because the researchers have tested children who are taught in their mother tongue and found them better then those whose medium of instruction was alien to them.

* In case of multilingual society, the language of instruction should be the language which is the medium of communication or commonly spoken language in the society

* The language of media (TV, News Paper etc)

* Language which bring unity to the country

* Language that parents could understand

* In cause of second language, the script must be the same as mother tongue so it would be easy to learn due to the common script.

* A develop language, which could accept words from other languages

* Give equal opportunities in competition of jobs

* Due to diversity of Local languages in Pakistan we have to chose between Urdu and English language as medium of instruction

* Both are international languages which are spoken in more than one country

* Both are still using as medium of instruction at different level in Pakistan education system

Comparison between English and Urdu

* Today English has the vocabulary up to 450000.00 and Urdu 390000.00 words

* English is the most spoken language on the face of earth.

* After Chinese, Urdu is the third spoken / communicate able language of the world, according to a united nation report

* Urdu language has great ability to accept words from other languages comparing to English language


* Before the independence of Pakistan the medium of instruction of subcontinent was English and after the independence of Pakistan English is still the official language of Pakistan. It is used in all domains of Power. Bureaucracy, Government , Military, Media, Judiciary, Commerce, Education & Research


* It is widely believed that English medium schools in Pakistan are doing a better job of educating the children and their products are far better in life. But the fact is that, they have the resources to get the best teachers and the best books

* Schools in slum areas with boards declaring them to be English-medium written in the Urdu script! Needless to say they teach in Urdu while striving to use some form of broken English as medium of instruction.

* With out parents help students cant achieve their full potentialities in the filed of education ( parents who cant read or speak the language in which their children are getting education)

* Less then 20 % Pakistani can speak or read English

* On the other hand more than 70% Pakistani can understand and speak Urdu thanks to media, PTV and radio


* “Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman– His point was that if children were taught in their first language, their comprehension would increase. He justified his view by saying that though English is the language of science and technology and without adopting that language we cannot progress, yet it does not suffice because by adopting this language, we still have not progressed”



* English is an international and rich Language.

* The language of thousands of words and phrases.

* English is the language of science and technology.

* English is the language of Employment opportunities.

* Language of Internet and computer usage.

* The Highest numbers of books At all level are published in English language every year.


* Teacher and student easily understand it

* It removed cultural diversity

* Mother tongue is also promoted.

* National language place a vital role in creating mutual understanding

* It is widely understood language of Pakistan, though Urdu is the mother tongue of only 7.57 percent of Pakistan population.

* Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, Fiji and India (in 5 states)

Reasons / Hinders

* Bureaucracy of Pakistan, the bureaucrats never want any other language than English because these are the people who served British government, As Macaulay wrote in his report to British government to introduce an education system in India to prepare English minded people who will work for them. They are spiritual slaves of British according to Maulana Mododi

* The owners of private schools and colleges: Education became a business in Pakistan and this dual system of education give opportunities to open more English language school and colleges to make money due to this reason they always against the one system of education and one medium of instruction (urdu),

* The policy makers: These are Politicians, Bureaucrats, elite class of Pakistan and the business community of private institutions. They are not the real representatives of Pakistan so they make polices which suite them.

* The elite class of Pakistan: who don't want to see common man to challenge them in the high level job competitions? They speak in home English as their first language. They have good English tutors who teach their children, they never want to see Urdu as medium of instruction in Pakistan because then they will have to compete with the real talent of Pakistan.


1. Change the examinations at CSS and public service commission level from English to Urdu (Preference should be given to Urdu medium )

2. Like Sri Lanka it should be compulsorily for the government servant to admit their children in government schools and colleges

3. One curriculum and one education system should be adopted in Pakistan with one medium of instruction (Urdu).

4. Urdu and mother tongue should be introduce from primary level (class one)

5. English should be introduced from six class as functional language so the students could read English books at later stage


Khalid, S. M. (1996). Pakistan Men Jame`At Ka Kirdar: Mujallah 8 . Islamabad: Institute of policy studies.

Sajjid, M., & Mansoor, s. (2005). Pakistan main zareya taleema ka masala. Lahore : Institute of policy studies Islamabad


Afzal, N. (n.d.). CHAPTER 5 PROBLEMS. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from

Mustafa, Z. (2005, November 16). Debate on Medium of Instruction. Retrieved May 5, 2009, from

Islam, R. (n.d.). Amor Ekushe : International MotherLanguage Day. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

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