The majority of Pakistani people are in favour of English language teaching being introduced to the country’s madrassa schools, according to a survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan.
The poll conducted by the market research company found that 59% of Pakistanis want the language to be taught as part of the schools' traditional Islamic curriculum, with 31% of respondents against.
However, critics of the government’s aims to increase the range of subjects taught in madrassas say the plan will be ineffective as a means of combating Islamic extremism.
Major aid donors such as America believe that improving literacy levels across the Pakastani education system, not just in Madrassas, will have a direct impact on the social inequality that gives rise to terrorism.
Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali, a former education minister, said: "We were trying to introduce the madrasa reforms. Five madrasa federations had agreed to the establishment of a madrasa board under the ministry of education. They also agreed to introduce the general system of education, in vogue in Pakistan."
Ahmed Ali said that a madrasa reform bill was to be presented to parliament earlier this year but it had to be abandoned because of the devolution of authority to the provinces.
Some madrasas are modernising their syllabuses and have already introduced general subjects such as English, maths and computer studies. According to Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, a moderate umbrella group for madrasas, 20% of schools are teaching other subjects in addition to Islamic education.
Posted by Keith Broomer
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