Thar Foundation and TCF sign agreement to adopt Sindhi as the main language in schools

HYDERABAD: In a first, the Thar Foundation (TF) and The Citizens Foundation (TCF) have signed an agreement to adopt Sindhi as medium of instruction in more than 500 TCF schools in Sindh, starting from Tharparkar where the former is supporting establishment and the running of such schools.

Sindh Minister for Education Jam Mehtab Dahar commended the move and assuring his support said, “The Sindh government will support organisations like TF and TCF in similar bids to improve quality of education in the province. Adopting Sindhi as medium in 500 quality schools in Sindhi is a significant move and I welcome this initiative for which the TF and TCF deserve acclaim,” minister said.

“Elite schools provide quality education because the class is concerned about the education of their children; why is it not the case with the middle- and lower-middle class people?” complained Jam Mehtab Dahar inviting parents and civil society to include their share of efforts for the betterment of education in Sindh. “The government alone cannot do much without the active participation of parents and civil society,” he said calling it a “confession”.

“Among the projects that Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company has done through the Thar Foundation, the two projects which are closer to my heart are the biosaline agriculture in Tharparkar and adopting Sindhi as medium of instruction in schools,” Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, who heads both the organisations, said at an agreement ceremony held at the Sindhi Language Authority office. He said that it was a pity that we don’t teach our children in their mother tongue, which is Sindhi, whereas, almost all European nations have progressed through adopting their L1 as medium of instruction. He cited the example of Finland which ranks among the top nations to have achieved excellence in the field of education.

“We will soon be wiped off if we as nation don’t concentrate our efforts for the betterment of education today,” Shamsuddin lamented adding that the education system, particularly, in Tharparkar was miserable.

He informed the audience that his company had spent Rs 63 crore on education in the last 22 months, ie since the commencement of the Thar Coal Block II project.

The TF’s Naseer Memon told the forum that the project was actually “multi-faceted” and would take a while to roll out to entire Sindh, starting from TCF’s schools in Tharparkar.

“Adopting Sindhi as medium of instruction has scientific basis behind it and is not at all socio-politically motivated,” Naseer Memon said adding that teaching in Urdu and English must continue as L2 and L3.

Senior journalist and author of The Tyranny of Language in Education – The Problem & its Solution Zubeda Mustafa, called it a “historic moment for Sindh” since TCF has one of the largest quality schools network and adopting Sindhi as medium of instruction will “further improve the children’s ability to grasp ideas of the world around them”.

Zubeda Mustafa, a firm supporter of teaching in L1, said, “One of the biggest problem of our education system is that we don’t teach students in their own language. It is proven that when babies are born, they start thinking about their surroundings. And they think in their mother’s language. Thus, the learning process of a child should logically be complemented by teaching in L1 or mother-tongue in schools.”

Zubeda Mustafa asserted in front of the participants comprising teachers, social development professionals, civil society activists and students.

“Unfortunately, this is not the case,” she said. “Rather some alien language is imposed on a child who has just started learning about complex concepts of the world. By adopting Sindhi as medium of instruction in all quality schools,” she said, “Sindh will surpass in the field of education as a result in the years to come.”

Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.