Arabic course has no takers at Bangalore varsity

Arabic course  has no takers at Bangalore varsity

It focuses on market, jobs in West Asia

Arabic, one of the widely spoken languages in the world, has no takers in Bangalore University (BU). While 30 enquiries were made about the course, not a single one resulted in admission in the academic year 2012-13.

Jyothi Venkatesh of the Department of Foreign Languages at BU told Deccan Herald that the department individually called many who had made enquires but the prospective students did not take admission.

Nonetheless, the Arabic course will be continued in the academic year 2014-15 and by June this year, it will become clear whether students opt for the course that has been introduced keeping in mind the opportunities and presence of the huge Indian community in West Asia. The department believes that students, businessmen and semi-skilled people will find the course useful for day-to-day interactions and office work-related transactions, when they take up jobs in the Gulf countries. 

Says Venkatesh: “My assessment is that it is a teething problem which occurs when you introduce a new course. Prospective students will realise that the course is purely functional and suitable for the employment industry.” The university will teach the history of the language and its functionalities, but not go into the strict spiritual domain.

Arabic teaching in madrassas in the State differs starkly with BU’s method. According to the State government, Karnataka has 323 Arabic madrassas, of which 103 are aided and 220 unaided. Arabic schools are widespread in Mumbai-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka towns and cities —  Belgaum, Bijapur, Uttara Kannada, Dharwad, Gulbarga, Bidar and Bellary districts. Of the nine Arabic colleges in the State, three are aided and six unaided. 

Different visions

A S Seetharamu, education expert from the Institute of Social and Economic Change, explains why BU may have seen zero admissions. “Broadly one can say that Arabic taught in madrassas would prepare students for a great spiritual role in the future. The language is not taught for purely its functional character. The stress on functionality will be higher at BU. In case students are looking for a greater role in social service, they may not prefer a university setting.

On the other hand, some may be looking for career prospects, which means they have to train at the university. This is not to say one is better than the other, just that the visions of institutions could be different.” Interestingly, there are people in India whose mother tongue is Arabic, considering that Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu) speakers are dominant in the country. 

The 2001 census had reported that 51,728 people had Arabic as their mother tongue in 2001. Bihar with 18,000 and UP with 8,500 people, had the largest concentrations of Arabic speakers. Nine other states had roughly 1,000 Arabic-speaking people. 

The number of Arabic-speakers doubled from under 22,000 in the 1991 census to over 50,000 in 2001. There are also 12,000 people who speak Persian. They are concentrated in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Bihar. Venkatesh is quick to point out that Arabic is not restricted to any particular community. 

“Indians from a variety of communities work in and travel to West Asia. People look for jobs in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Jeddah, and Sharjah. These are thriving cities and transactions would be easy in local language. We are open to all people and we hope people will join the course in the coming academic year.”

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