Experts stress need to reform STB syllabus
HYDERABAD: Speakers have stressed the need to reform the Sindh Textbook Board (STB) syllabus through a board of education experts while adding that no encroachment of the curriculum be allowed by the Centre as it is a provincial subject under the 18th Amendment.
They were speaking at a two-day conference on ‘The role of mother languages in the development of nations’ hosted by the Sindhi Language Authority (SLA) which got under way in its Dr N.A. Baloch Hall on Tuesday.
SLA chairman Dr Abdul Ghafoor Memon discussed the aims of the conference held to mark the day. Presiding over the conference, Sindh Culture and Archives Minister Sardar Ali Shah said a board should be formed to revisit the entire STB syllabus and approve it, adding that no encroachment of the national curriculum be allowed on the provincial education system after the 18th Amendment.
He said he believed that the bill of Dr Karim Khowaja should be approved as it sought the national language status for the languages of the four provinces. He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which “opposes the bill”, would get a majority in the upper house in March and then it would become an unfulfilled dream. He said the Constitution should be amended to have a provision for the national language status in any province provided the relevant assembly approved it. He called for revisiting the STB’s syllabus to see whether the syllabus being taught in Sindh was up to the mark. He said: “We need to see whether our children are imparted education in the right direction. We must see who are our actual heroes”.
He said the Sindhi language was entering a new era and expressed the hope that it would prosper forever.
He announced the establishment of a language engineering department in the SLA for which a tender had been floated. He said paperwork had been digitised.
He appreciated the efforts of Majid Bhurgri, Amar Fayaz Buriro, Shabbir Kumbhar and others for launching the Sindhi Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and that Sindh needed such people in all fields. He said Sindh was connected under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which was considered a game changer.
He said he was ready for accountability for the Rs23 million expenses incurred on the recent Moenjodaro conference. He added that he was not a man who would earn money using the theme of Moenjodaro and challenged that he would quit politics if someone organised that conference next year even with Rs30m.
100,000 people live in Pucca Qila
He said he was striving to establish a cultural corridor. Conservation of part of the Umerkot Fort would be ready soon. He conceded that conservation of Pucca Qila was direly needed but it involved a political question as 100,000 people lived inside the fort. There were two options — the government, with the federal government, should displace that population without a settlement plan or talk it over to get an amicable solution. He had spoken to lawmakers from that area, who had agreed upon a solution.
He said he had approached Italian experts for excavation in the Ranikot Fort to know its history in view of the conflicting accounts. Those experts would perform carbon dating.
He announced that the culture department would establish a carbon dating laboratory in Karachi and a language museum in Hyderabad.
Dr Suleman Shaikh said that Sindhi OCR’s launch was a defining moment for Sindh. He regretted that Sindhi had not been recognised as a national language. He quoted the statement of an important government functionary who said that this could lead to a conflict if Sindhi was given that status.
People have hope in youths. Sindhi people must communicate in the Sindhi language through mobile phone messages to give it the national language status themselves first before blaming others.
He said he felt that people were giving up teaching Sindhi to their children and criticised the Sindh government for allowing private schools across Sindh that did not teach the Sindhi language although they had licences to impart education in other languages. He said that one organisation was being given land for establishing schools but it was not bound to teach the Sindhi language. Even in the neighbourhood of the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sindhi was not being taught and wondered who would read Bhitai’s poetry in such circumstances.
Amar Fayaz Buriro, who launched the Sindhi OCR and ‘Sindhi auto parsing’, briefed the audience on development of the Sindhi language with information technology to help preserve literature and convert images into a word document.
Electronic devices were a direct threat to the Sindhi language, he said. A project of voice-to-text and text-to-voice conversion was in the pipeline while an online library of the Sindhi Language Authority had been established. He was now aiming for preparing software of artificial intelligence through computing technology, he said.
MPA Faqir Dad Khoso lauded the launch of the Sindhi OCR and said that people were fast losing the habit of book reading.
Niaz Panhwar in his speech said the name of Amar Fayaz Buriro should be recommended for the highest award because the ‘Sindhi nation’ and future generations could always be beholden to him for this great achievement for the mother language.
Nineteen books were also launched on the occasion.