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Published Date: Apr 2, 1998

Language-Teaching Policies in Pakistan (R-14)

Tariq Rahman, SDPI


Language-teaching is important not only as part of the overall educational policy of the state but also in its own right.  It is important as part of overall policy because it reinforces the values, attitudes and policies promoted by the state. It is important in its own right because languages empower or disempower people (Rahman 1996). Languages used in the domains of power — the administration, armed forces, commerce, media, education — empower people by giving them access to social and technical skills and lucrative jobs.  Languages are also identity symbols and enable people to get access to the world view expressed in the literature written in them.

This article, then, examines the language-teaching policies of the state in Pakistan.  The focus is on state-controlled vernacular medium schools and not private English medium schools or madrassas (religious seminaries) though policies about them have been mentioned in passing where necessary. The policies have been examined in relation to the states’ overall policy of developing Pakistani nationalism as a counter to ethnicity.  In order to restrict the scope of the study, the other aspects of the state’s education policies have not been given the detailed attention they deserve in their own right.