Critical Literacy in ELT in Pakistan: Contradictory or Complementary

Sayed Kazim Shah, Rashid Mahmood, Abdul Hameed, Hafiz Muhammad Fazal e Haq


The paper intends to look into the prescribed English language syllabus for the secondary level in Pakistan. It explores to what extent the English syllabus a) serves the needs of the intended citizenship and b) meets the international standards set for the socially well-equipped students. The English language syllabus is required to contain the basic concepts of democratic and political ideals to help and prepare informed citizens for the promotion of democracy and creating a culture of political tolerance. There is plethora of literature available about the purpose of education and literacy. The most important purpose of education is the preparation of the citizens with high adaptive values. For the achievement of these ideal values, the focus of the paper is to find out whether or not any ideal efforts such as policymaking, teacher training, and proper curriculum development as proposed by Apple and Beans (1999) are made in Pakistan. As the number of students at secondary level is very high and relevant sampling from such a large population is sure to be affected by extraneous variables. The priorities of the government for education could only be observed through the syllabus intended for the institutions under its control. Madrassas and private institutions design and develop syllabus for their institutions independently. The Population for this study is the secondary school teacher. The reason for this delimitation is their direct involvement in the teaching of the English language to the secondary classes. The questionnaire for this study is based on the objectives and suggested topics set for English language curriculum by Sustainable Development Institution New York (cited by A.H.Nayyer 2008). The following five areas are reflected in the questionnaire: Firstly, the importance of some suggestive topics intended to be included in the syllabus of the secondary classes. Secondly, it takes into account the efficiency of the teachers and their knowledge about the suggested topics. Thirdly, the opportunities currently students are being provided with in the schools to learn about these topics. Fourthly, the method for the inclusion of these topics into the intended syllabus and lastly, the efficiency of the existing syllabus to cater to the student’s democratic and civil knowledge based needs. The study has shown that the English language syllabus lacks the aim of the education to fulfill the needs of the socially informed citizens in Pakistan. This situation needs immediate revision of education policy and the existing curriculum.

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