An Analysis of Medium of Instruction Policies in the Education System of Pakistan with Specific Reference to English Medium Education

  • Sadia Asif Assistant Professor, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Imran Afzal Subject Specialist, Higher Secondary School Kasowal
  • Rahat Bashir Principal Lecturer, University of Central Punjab
Keywords: Medium of Instruction, Urdu Medium Schools, Bilingual Education, Language Policies, Private Schools


A critical examination of the trends, issues, and challenges in policy and practice of English language education in Pakistan is the main concern of this paper. This is done first by describing the practice of teaching English in varied instructional situations. Second, the paper historically reviews the language education policies since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Third, the consequences of using English as the medium of instruction are discussed. A longitudinal large scale study is done to highlight the fact that English as medium of instruction at primary school level can distort the teaching and learning activities for students and teachers in rural areas of Pakistan and student drop-out rate can even get higher in those areas. The data was collected from the interviews of twenty teachers working in government and semi government schools at primary level. Based on the information obtained from the target participants, teaching at the same level but in different schools, the author argues that mother tongue education at the primary level is the most appropriate method to enhance the educational performance of students and a positive approach to bilingual education must be taken to resolve the challenges associated with the medium of instruction policies in the education system of Pakistan. Moreover, the data also shows that adopting English as a medium of instruction in Public schools may lead to low motivation level among students and it can hinder the development of English as a second language among learners. Furthermore, a difference in home language and school language may also hamper development and concepts formation in students at school level. Therefore, it is recommended that before implementing any language as medium of instruction at school level, one must review the history of Pakistani education system and must keep in mind the linguistic differences of the society and unavailability of resources is also a major hindrance in implementation of any language policy.  The results of this study confirm that the pedagogical effectiveness could only be achieved through the mother tongue and provides clear evidence for the usage of native languages as a medium of education in schools.