PESHAWAR: All the government schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will switch over from Urdu to English medium gradually in a period of four to five years, according to officials.

They told Dawn that English would replace Urdu gradually as a medium in state-run schools of the province because elementary and secondary education department could not do it in one go. It was neither feasible for the students to start learning in the changed medium abruptly nor the teachers were trained to teach their subjects in English, they said.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led provincial government has decided to change the medium from Urdu to English from grade-1 in the government schools from the coming academic year commencing from April, 2014. Once the medium was changed from the grade-I, it would be changed onward with each passing year, officials said.

They said that the previous government of Awami National Party had already taken the initiative of changing the medium from grade-IV under the National Textbook and Learning Material Policy from the academic year 2013. After grade-IV, the medium would be changed with the passing of each year, officials said.

The change of medium has been commenced at two stages -- first from beginning and second from grade-IV -- which would take four or five years to change it to secondary level.

“Textbooks of mathematics and general science for grade-IV have already been converted into English while printing of both the subjects for grade-V has started,” officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board told Dawn. They said that KPTB had also ordered the publishers to start printing of textbooks of mathematics and general knowledge for grade-1 in English.

Besides national and regional languages, they said, only Pakistan Studies would be taught in Urdu.

Directorate of Curriculum and Teachers Education Director Bashir Hussain Shah, when contacted, said that the required textbooks were already available with the education department as such books had already been taught in several government schools that switched over to English medium in the past.

“The department has no problem with the change of medium as only available books will be printed in English instead of Urdu,” he said.

A single teacher from each of the 23,500 primary schools in the province would be trained before changing the medium of the relevant books, Mr Shah said. The training of teachers would take around one month, he said.

Some international donor organisations were supporting the education department to train the teachers, the official said. The development of training manual was in final stage, he said.

“We are already having master trainers as training teachers is a continuous process,” he said. The master trainers would train the teachers at circle level across the province as each district was divided into several circles according to its size, he said.

“Hopefully teachers will be trained a month before change of the medium. The training duration of each group of teachers will be 12 days,” Mr Shah said.

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