Islamabad, 21 September 2022 (TDI): President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi has stated that in addition to learning and promoting the national language, learning other languages, particularly English, should be encouraged so that the immense reservoir of scientific, technical, and business information available in these languages can be accessed.

The President made these remarks today at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Islamabad, at the opening session of the three-day 1st Pak TESOL international conference on new trends in English language teaching in Pakistan.

Donald Blome, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, and Professor Dr. Zia ul Qayum, Vice-Chancellor AIOU, also spoke during the conference.

In his remarks during the occasion, the President stated that Urdu was a national language of communication and that adequate emphasis should be placed on its promotion and growth.

He went on to say that English was widely spoken, was the language of worldwide communication, and could be useful for obtaining modern scientific and technological information as well as efficiently presenting Pakistan’s position to the international community.

The President stated that scientific knowledge and words were typically available in developed-country languages, hence it was critical to acquire such languages.

He went on to say that, while current research and development were taking place in other languages as well, a large amount of research was being done in English, making its study crucial for speeding up the country’s progress.

President Alvi stated that the most recent breakthroughs in the field of Information Technology (IT), particularly in the form of Artificial Intelligence, were touching every aspect of life.

Contemporary applications and technology could be utilized to learn languages in an easy and effective manner. The paradigm of learning and education has been transformed by modern technologies.

Moreover, memorization of information had fallen out of favor in preference for analytical and rational decision-making.

He also highlighted that the Muslim world has historically been slow to adopt new technology, particularly the Gutenberg printing press, causing Muslim societies to fall behind in science and knowledge.

Likewise, Muslims in the Subcontinent were also resistant to studying English due to its colonial origins. Nonetheless, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan urged them to learn English in order to obtain knowledge and prosper socially, politically, and economically.

Dr. Arif Alvi earlier stated that a tremendous wealth of knowledge and philosophy was available in Greek, which was afterward translated into Arabic by Muslims.

Later, he explained, this immense pool of knowledge was translated and transferred to English and other languages. According to the President, human vocabulary is limited.

Hence, failing to understand the context and background of communication can lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation, which can cause problems inside families as well as nations.

He stated that the globe was confronted with the issue of fake news and out-of-context communication, which needed to be handled in order to avoid suspicions and fear among people and nations.

In this vein, President Alvi shared that during his academic and professional life, he had a long involvement with the process of acquiring multiple languages, including Arabic, English, and Urdu.

The President praised the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) for employing hybrid teaching approaches to accomplish the aim of “education for all” by providing education to students, particularly in rural areas.

He stated that he had been working to promote online and hybrid modes of learning in Pakistan because it was the simplest and most cost-effective way to provide education.

While speaking at the ceremony, US Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome stated that the catastrophic floods in Pakistan had affected the lives and livelihoods of a large number of people.

He underlined that millions of people had been rendered homeless, adding that America stood with Pakistan during this difficult time. Ambassador Blome also stated that the US has been working for many years to improve the capability of Pakistani students and teachers through the Fulbright and other scholarship programmes.

This year, 800 students and teachers were sent to the United States through the Fulbright programme, he added. He also stated that the US Embassy has trained 30 thousand teachers in Pakistan. Professor Dr. Ziaul Qayyum, Vice-Chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University, also spoke at the conference.

In welcoming the President and other attendees, he stated that the institution was taking initiatives to provide quality education to millions of children in rural and backward areas of the country, as well as to develop teacher capacity.

He also expressed gratitude to the President for his ongoing support and direction to AIOU in its mission to promote quality education in Pakistan.