23
Jan
07

Mrs Chips? Surely not…

Life is returning to the grind though and I’m not sure my mind has the time to be wondering about the habits and whereabouts of said neighbor dude at all odd times. My second semester of post graduate study has started and I am pleased as punch to tell you all and even those who don’t want to know that I cleared all 4 courses of the first semester which is a big deal when you consider that the minimum pass percentage was 80%.

I have to teach geniuses the ins and outs of business communication this term in addition to HRM and I am dreading it. The first question in the first class yesterday from one of the students was whether I would be teaching them English Grammar. *Groan* my head’s already spinning.

I understand enough about our society and the educational system to realize that not many people are as blessed or as privileged as I have been to study at a good school during my formative years which ensured in the words of my uncle that I can speak English without an associated Desi accent and listen to English songs, but there are times when I fail to understand just how knowing the extent of the defective education in the country, does our government make those claims?.

Every semester, I have at least two meetings with the head of the university where I teach where I am told that students have complained about the ‘level’ of the English language that I use and I am asked to temper it down just a little, and try and give some of the concepts in Urdu. The result is that I now teach management courses, where 70% of the lecture is in Urdu. I spend hours translating papers and assignments supposedly written in English, to try and establish some kind of relationship between what I had said and what has been written but how far do I depend on my deduction to correct an exam of a student enrolled in a program of professional business studies.

There will be those amongst you who will think that perhaps I’m a person who favor a foreign language to my own but that’s not it. My students are a fraction of the total population in terms of the level of education that they are enrolled in. They are part of a future work force that we are promoting as having a high level of skills and knowledge sufficient to compete with the demands of the coming times.

Realistically, our labor market has a few years of protection before free market conditions are imposed and in the face of cheaper and better skilled and focused workers coming in from China and South-East Asia, where will our graduates go, who lack basic language skills and confidence to deal with the rest of the world. There was a time when the semi-skilled labor requirements of the Middle East were met and then some by Pakistanis. Now, they have been replaced by cheaper and more skilled labor from India, Bangladesh and even Srilanka. This story is repeated all over the world, where Pakistanis now also face an additional test; in the face of the taunts and trials that go with being perceived as belonging to a race or nation of terrorists.

In a debate a few days ago, someone said that Muslims have forsaken this world. They have preferred to lay down their arms and die meekly and in shame and lose this world, seemingly settling for the Afterworld. It is a fact that we believe in that the hereafter, the world after this one belongs to those of the faith, the momin; the musalman. But why do we forget all those verses of the Holy Quran where we’ve been told that the Earth and the Skies and all in between have also been created for us should be willing to learn how to use them and conquer them? History has given us examples of how the great conquests took place all over the world. The swords and the guns and the battles came later. Before them, came people of peace, whose only objective seemed to be to learn, to increase and develop contact and relationships. Whether we talk about the conquests of the Europeans in Asia, or in the Americas, this is how they did it. Bit by bit by bit, they came to us, became one with us, spoke to us in our language, and embraced all that we were. It was this knowledge of the inside that allowed them to tear us apart because they saw where the fabric was worn and threadbare enough to tear apart.
Generals and great strategists emphasize knowing your enemy better than knowing yourself. Even if we claim that the English language, that the West and all the languages and religions within are evil, and out to destroy us, is it right that we accept the status quo, accept the fact that we are weaker than they are, and lie down and let them strike off our heads simply on the premise of a place in the hereafter?

How will we face the Almighty and the Prophet (sallallahualahiwassalam) we claim to follow and love beyond anything and anyone knowing that we allowed their enemies to use the religion that they had given to us to destroy the very people who claimed to follow it? What measure of faith will we show them? The wounds that we carry of being called barbaric, and uncivilized and uneducated would become our marks of shame rather than glory as we would take them. We, who are the followers of the Caliphs, of Abu Bakar (R.A.), Of Umar (R.A.), of Usman (R.A.) and Ali (R.A.) and carriers of the charters of Hassan (R.A.) and Hussain (R.A.). How can we even claim the world that they reside in knowing that we allowed ordinary men and women like us to decimate all that they gave their lives to uphold and build?

I don’t remember any Islamic chronicle ever stating that this was how Muslims dealt with adversary, whether it was a person, a faith or simply a lack of information. We are Muslims. We are Muslims who don’t know our book, who don’t know our faith, don’t know who or what we are beyond that label of a Muslim. We do not even know the meaning of the kalima that has the power to turn an infidel into the most blessed person to walk the earth because with this one statement he embraces Allah and Allah embraces him. And we, who supposedly utter this supplication when we first learn to speak, are not even aware of what it holds.

Oh boy! And to think I was just going to write about my worries about what my students would put me through this term… Here’s hoping that rants stemming from severe frustration do not erupt in class…

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1 Response to “Mrs Chips? Surely not…”


  1. Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 22:16

    I usually cannot relate to this argument although in a sense I can understand where you are coming from but there are so many developed nations of the world who have done JUST fine by imparting education in their own language instead of making their citizens dwell in a perpetual Colonial hangover. China, Taiwan, Japan but in some ways more significant (because THAT is a very deliberate attempt) is the French example.


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