The Status and Role of Regional Languages in Higher Education in Pakistan

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Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
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The Status and Role of Regional Languages in Higher Education in Pakistan Sabiha Mansoor Available online: 29 Mar 2010

To cite this article: Sabiha Mansoor (2004): The Status and Role of Regional Languages in Higher Education in Pakistan, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 25:4, 333-353 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01434630408666536

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The Status and Role of Regional Languages in Higher Education in Pakistan Sabiha Mansoor Centre of English Language, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan Pakistan, as a multilingual country, faces numerous problems in language planning in higher education. There are concerns about the limited role of regional languages, lack of required materials in Urdu, and student difficulties in English. The research reported here is a nationwide survey of 2136 students, 121 Subject and English teachers of public and private sector colleges and universities from all capital cities of Pakistan, as well as 63 parents who responded to the questionnaire. The survey examines the students’ background, their competency and use of mother tongue/ regional languages, attitudes to languages, the availability and quality of materials, the role of regional languages in education, as well as language and sociocultural outcomes. Results reveal a language shift in the regional speakers who display low competency and use of their mother tongue/regional languages in formal and informal domains. They also display negative attitudes to their own languages as seen in their preference to study in English and Urdu medium at all levels of schooling. The study recommends a language policy in education that promotes cultural pluralism and also provides state support to the minority languages in Pakistan. Keywords: minority languages, language shift, assimilation policy, case study, ethnolinguistic vitality, subtractive bilingualism

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Introduction
A brief analysis of the present language situation and a historical perspective indicates that regional languages have not been provided state support in education at all levels, particularly in higher education, in Pakistan. The issue regarding the status and role of regional languages has not been adequately addressed by the various education commissions set up by different governments to look into the problems being faced by students and teachers in higher education. The Report of the Education Sector Reforms (2001) and the Task Force on Higher Education (2002) set up by General Musharraf have also not addressed the issue of language policy in higher education. The official policy with regards to language has been to maintain English as the medium of instruction in Higher Education after the country’s independence in 1947, as seen in all educational policies and reports of education commissions and committees set up in this regard...
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