Teaching and Learning English in Sindh Schools (2014)

This brief summarizes a study that examines whether the prevailing linguistic, pedagogical and administrative conditions in public schools provide space for the teaching of English as a subject at the primary level and whether a transition towards adopting it as the Medium of Instruction (MoI) is possible. A situational analysis of schools in four districts of Sindh: Karachi, Sukkur, Jamshoro and Khairpur, was conducted along with a review of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2009, the Sindh Education Sector Plan and the English curriculum and textbooks in use.

The review reveals inconsistencies among the standards set by federal documents and the ground realities in Sindh. It shows that changing the MoI to English, as recommended by the NEP 2009, in a province where Sindhi is the predominant language of instruction is a significant implementation challenge. Observations of English classrooms reveal English teachers lack the required language skills to teach English, while the textbook review of the grade 8 English textbooks outlines the discrepancies between the standards and objectives listed in the curriculum. The findings suggest that under the prevailing circumstances, converting the MoI to English will prove detrimental to the teaching-learning environment in the province. In addition, instead of teaching English as a subject from grade 1, it should be taught as a skill if the ultimate purpose is to make students fluent in its usage. Opportunities and training should be provided to teachers so that they become familiar with the latest trends in language pedagogy. Lastly, textbooks need to be written keeping in mind the curricular standards and the developmental needs of the learners.