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The Teaching of Urdu Language in Fiji

پروفیسر چمن لال صاحب سابق صدر  ہندستانی زبانوں کا مرکز ، جے این یو  جو آج کل ٹرینڈاڈ میں وزٹینگ پروفیسر ہیں ۔ انھوں نے یہ تحریر بھیجی ہے ۔ ان کی وساطت سے اردو کے قارئین کے لیے یہ تحریر پیش کر رہا ہوں ۔

Historical Background

Every society has an in-depth love for its language and culture. They want to see the oncoming generation acquire and carry their language skills with them because the mother tongue plays a very significant role in the development of children as well as culture. We use vernacular language not only at home but also during times of ceremonial occasions.

Fiji Muslims efforts to proclaim their distinct identity is evident in1909 before the first Education Commission, in their request for Urdu, to be taught to their children. Urdu remains as essential symbol of Muslim identity in Fiji.

In early days Urdu was informally taught to children in the mosques and religious centers. The formal teaching of Urdu in Fiji began with the establishment of schools in the early decades of the last century. As the Muslims population grew the need for better teaching/learning material in Urdu became imperative. People used to import Urdu reading material from India and Pakistan.

During the early days of Urdu teaching there were only a few primary and secondary schools offering Urdu as a subject. In 1954 Urdu syllabus was introduced at Nasinu Teachers College. The establishment of Urdu Work Group in 1971 to prepare resource material and text books for use in primary schools provided the first organized attempt to continuously raise the standard of attainment in this subject area, but it is important to note that the first refresher course in Urdu was organized in the Western Division in 1955. During these days basic text books were further revised and some ancillary material were also developed.

In the past the type of text books used varied from school to school and not all the students had the relevant text books for use in the classroom. The absence of an outline curriculum for schools was probably the main factor making the task extremely difficult. The supervision and guidance given in this area was minimal due to staffing difficulties and the scattered nature of schools.

With the appointment of the first Urdu Adviser at the Curriculum Development Unit in 1975, it has been possible to co-ordinate the varied activities of the Urdu Work Group and make concentrated efforts in the development of the Urdu Language programs in the primary and secondary schools.

Development and Progress

A ten year program to review the Urdu curriculum was started in 1994. This program was completed in 2004. During this period all Urdu prescriptions, text books and Teachers Guides from Class 1 to Form 7 were reviewed. Apart from short stories and poetry, the new novel and drama sections of the Urdu literature were also introduced at various levels. These changes were made by the Urdu Adviser Mr. Abdul Qayyum Khan in collaboration with the Urdu Work Group. The members of the Work Group comprise of representatives of Teachers Union, Teachers Training College, Urdu teachers and representative of the Fiji Muslim league.

Previously all local Urdu text books, Teachers Guides, refresher courses materials and external examination papers were written in calligraphic form. Urdu calligraphic is time consuming and demanding. With the increased need of this work Urdu computer software was introduced in 2004. With computer technology work become easier, faster and more efficient.

The Urdu speaking community has been promoting their culture, civilization, traditional values and literature through Urdu language. All Urdu text books contained culture oriented stories. The culture back ground is evident in the Urdu content to attain the objectives laid down in the Urdu prescriptions of primary and secondary classes.

Up date

  1. The department of Urdu at CDU (Primary and Secondary) is responsible for preparing and updating Urdu prescriptions, text books and support materials for all levels and also to evaluate the teaching and learning of the subject.
  2. Urdu is taught from Class 1 to Form 7 and is also exam able at FIE, FEYE, FJCE, FSLC and FSFE level.
  3. Currently there are sixty (60) primary and fourteen (14) secondary schools teaching Urdu in Fiji. Total number of students doing Urdu is 10,000, (8000 primary and 2000 secondary).
  4. Total Urdu teachers are 200, (175 Pr. and 25 Sec.) Most of these teachers are trained teachers.
  5. Urdu is also taught at Lautoka Teachers College and Islamic Institute of the South Pacific.
  6. All the materials mentioned above are available to the Urdu students free of charge from ERC.
  7. Urdu in service courses are organized annually for primary and secondary Urdu teachers.
  8. The schools taking Urdu have been provided with reading books, trial readers and related resource materials to assist the teachers in the implementation of the Urdu programme. The reports and feedback received from the Head Teachers and Principals in respect of this programme are very encouraging indeed.
  9. Observation made during visits to these schools also indicates that good progresses being made in the development of the Urdu teaching and learning programme.

Abdul Qayyum Khan

21/6/2005       

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