Education in Multilingual Context: An Attitudinal Survey of Usefulness of Languages Conducted In Religious Seminaries in Pakistan
Madrassas (religious seminaries) in Pakistan has an independent curriculum for imparting religious education. Unlike schools and colleges, they give prime importance to Arabic language that is symbolic of the grandeur of Islam. English language in a majority of these institutions is given less or no value. Further, it is also not mandatory language for graduation in madrassas. However, English dominates the job market and cannot be ignored in the country. Thus, madrassa students are faced with learning Arabic, Urdu, Persian and English besides local languages for professional prosperity. The present study is a qualitative attempt to investigate language attitudes to measure the usefulness of these languages in the linguistic market of the county. The findings are based on 42 in-depth interviews of madrassa students and teachers selected through purposive sampling conducted in 6 madrassas situated in province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The study reveals that the languages are perceived useful in different contexts. Arabic is considered important for religious duties, Urdu for nationalism and English for access to good jobs and use of modern technology. The study concludes that madrassa community is well aware of the importance of languages in contemporary scenario and the earlier views that religious community downplay the importance of English have become less relevant.