The need for promotion and preservation of culture, arts and heritage of Pakhtunkhwa (Khyber Pakhunkhwa) was never as severe as it is now. Culture being the most effective means of communication, can serve as potent instrument. Arts, Culture and Heritage cut through diverse rigid attitudes to foster understanding and reflection. Culture is a unifying feature between different cultural groups of the province. People of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) have suffered immensely due to war and conflicts in the region during the last three decades. The prevalent extremism and hostility towards Arts and Culture has created a vacuum that has been filled either by extremist forces, violence or foreign vulgarized cultural interventions purely commercial in nature, therefore alien and harmful to the local way of life. The existing situation offers a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the culture and traditions a counter – measure to religious extremism and intolerance. In this regard, BKTEF is introducing Culture as a subject in BK Schools. Besides, the foundation is also working for the protection, preservation and revival of local culture by working in the communities.
BKTEF has successfully launched a pilot project Promotion and Preservation of Local Culture, Arts and Heritage in Pakhtunkhwa with the collaboration of Royal Embassy of Norway. Given the fragile nature of the political situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with increased militarization and basis for fundamentalist Taliban forces in the communities, the “culture for social change “program can be seen as a soft, but powerful weapon against the Taliban and an alternative tool for development and for building self-esteem on positive values and as a way to build stronger linkages between concerned communities and the government for peace in the region. The initial focus of the project is youth across the target areas, staff members and students of Baacha Khan Schools, BKTEF Directorate, artists, writers/poets, instrumentalists, Members of Cultural Arts Councils and Directorate of Culture Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Renowned artist, performer and Director of Hunerkada, Jamal Shah is currently working as Technical Advisor for the project. Hunerkada is providing training to the BK Schools’ coordinators and selected coordinators from the community in visual arts, crafts, performing arts, folklore and other cultural aspects. Hunerkada is expected to help BKTEF in the arrangement of cultural events, establishing linkages with the artists, craftsmen and artisans. Hunerkada will also facilitate BKTEF in the documentation and preservation of cultural heritage.
The project would entail a partnership between the schools and its approximate community whereby culture become integrated into the school learning activities through the cultural clubs enabling outreach in a larger community. Elders and artists from the communities are linked to the school to share their cultural knowledge and indigenous experiences. The pilot intervention shall engage and have access to stakeholders in 13 cities and towns of the province.
Pakhtunkhwa (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) is blessed with an enviable cultural heritage the importance and potential of which has never been given a serious thought by the decision makers. In recent times the need for referring to this rich resource and of incorporating it in to the lives of people as a potent force to combat extremism has increased many folds. By drawing the target groups towards meaningful and absorbing pursuits, the project is likely to have a creative impact on their faculties and they will become more mindful towards their cultural heritage which does not have a clear definition at present. Without disturbing their day to day routines, the proposed intervention would encourage them to establish a creative relationship with their surroundings and inculcate in them an attitude of Observing, Envisioning, Innovating, Reflecting and Participating in creative pursuits.
The project envisages revival and renewal of Culture (arts and crafts) and creating opportunities for the local community artists and crafts people of re-orientation in a more conducive atmosphere, thus creating better livelihood opportunities and self respect which will contribute towards poverty alleviation. The revival of cultural events such as Melas and festivals would help the suppressed artisans and artists to earn respect and esteem along-with economic benefits. Such activities would engage both male and female arts and crafts-persons, artists/artisans and would help to ensure gender equality. Preservation and promotion of these activities would also ensure sustainability and open up possibilities of growth, continuity, replications and networking with other similar groups.
The project approach is envisioned as creative and participatory with the intent of breaking the mould in which young minds have been cast that offer diminutive outlet for self expression or experimentation. Creative arts on the other hand present such openings without coming into conflict with established norm provided they are presented and promoted in harmony with the social demands.
Infusing cultural activities such as folk poetry, riddles, story telling and playing rabab etc through a phased regulatory framework in the curriculum Like drawing and painting greeting cards on Eid and other religious festivals would not only be more appropriate than copying pictures from comics and cartoons but also effective in orienting young minds towards their cultural heritage. They will have ample opportunities to learn and practice indigenous forms of association in their cultural classes, clubs and events with their peers, parents and community at large. The introduction of culture will have a positive impact in grooming of these youngsters into responsible and productive young boys and girls.
Prevailing policies and regulatory frameworks can be impacted by harmonizing and synchronizing the curriculum and project contents with existing cultural conditions and curriculum regulations.
Peace Building through Culture: Cultural is a major force for unifying people. By organizing participatory activities, mellas and festivals, people of diverse views, ethnicity and religious beliefs can be brought closer and an atmosphere of social/cultural exchange and dialogue is established. Art and culture being the most effective means of communication can inculcate respect and appreciation for diversity which makes the society more tolerant hence a peaceful and harmonious co-existence becomes a possibility.
Poverty Alleviation: Revival of cultural events such as Traditional Melas and festivals would provide opportunities, to skilled Arts and Crafts people, of bringing their best to fore in a conducive atmosphere of social /cultural exchange where the appreciation of people help the artisans and artists to earn respect and esteem along-with economic benefits. Such activities would engage both male and female arts and crafts-persons, artists/artisans and would help to ensure gender equality. Preservation and promotion of these activities would also ensure sustainability and open up possibilities of growth, continuity, replications and Networking with other similar groups, arts councils, and culture department of the government.
Establishment of Cultural Clubs: Cultural clubs will be established in schools and community. At the school level a weekly cultural class (proposed for BKTEF schools) will provide opportunities of a very fruitful cultural exchange. Here they will learn and practice new skills of story telling, poetry recital, folk music, riddles and crafts. The schools will also arrange monthly and quarterly Cultural meets thereby extending its scope and involving other schools, parents and community into these activities. There will also be an annual Cultural Meet which will be attended by decision makers, government officials and media. These events will also have performances of local artists, demonstrations and stalls of artisans along side students displays and performances. Likewise at the Community level, Cultural Events, Melas and Festival will be organized by Community Cultural Clubs.
Cultural Resource Cell: CRC will be a dedicated office/cell and facility of BKTEF which will oversee the cultural activities of the Pilot program. It will work closely with Hunerkada and facilitate and coordinate with all government and non government Cultural organizations. CRC will have a small audio visual facility to undertake the task of documentation all activities, making films, Documentaries, developing a cultural data base and of sharing it with its partners.
These activities will create livelihood opportunities by involving local community based artisans and performing artists will provide income to the poorest of the poor and will enhance respect for these people in the local communities as well as for direct beneficiaries of the project.
Arranging mellas, exhibitions, stage performances etc shall provide equal opportunities to male and female students as well as to local and provincial artists/artisans to highlight their needs and promote their rights of assembly, expression, liberty, and entertainment and will help in bringing culture to the schools system.
The pilot project would enhance level of interest on part of students on having inter-school arts competition and would attract more children towards school which in the long run would add to increased enrolment. (MDG 2015)
Training workshops under the pilot would provide equal opportunities to male and female stakeholders of the project to develop and improve their knowledge and skills required for the promotion and preservation of local culture, arts and heritage.
MoU Signing Ceremoney Between BKTEF and Culture Ministry