The Forum for language Initiatives conducted a six-day workshop in the Gawri speech community called, “Workshop for Planning the Future of Our Language” during last week of May 2016 in Kalam, Swat.
Four participants from different areas of the Gawri speech community were trained as mother tongue facilitators. The main purpose of this workshop was to train MT facilitators from the Gawri speech community to use The Guide to facilitate discussions with representatives in their respective speech communities to increase awareness about language use, develop plans for the future of their language and engage more people in different ways to carry out those plans and achieve their goals. The trainers included Muhammad Zaman, Amir Haider and Ejaz Ahmed. More workshops of this kind are planned this year; in July for Sheena speech community and in August for Torwali speech community.
Organized and facilitated by Dr. Henrik Liljegren, Associate Professor at the Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University, Sweden from 12 to16 October, 2015 at FLI’s premises in Islamabad the project aimed at documenting the linguistic features of the languages spoken in the Himalayan region.
The workshop as part of larger research project was sponsored by Swedish Research Council. The identification of any substantial relations between the languages of Hindukush-Karakoram region was sought through various methods of interaction during the event.
The participants represented over 13 languages, spoken in different parts of northern Pakistan and AJK. The languages represented in this event were Bateri, Dameli, Gawarbati, Gawri, Indus Kohistani, Kalkoti, Kashmiri, Khowar, Palula, Shina, Torwali, Ushojo and Yidgha.
FLI is first of its kind in the region addressing languages and multilingual education. During the last few years FLI has made some good progress towards its goals. Below a number of specific achievements of FLI are highlighted.
Helped in establishing Mother-Tongue Based Multilingual Education Schools
FLI helped start multilingual education (MLE) pilot projects in language communities. FLI trained people from these language communities in the areas of school management committee, curriculum development and teacher and supervisor training. A two-year curriculum for these three communities was also published by FLI. In addition, FLI helped these communities in organization development, which included finance management, project management and leadership development. It is exciting to note that approximately 75 boys and girls completed the 2-year MLE program and transitioned smoothly into the mainstream school system. Currently, FLI is engaged with another four language communities to establish MLE projects: Hindko, Khowar, Shina and Indus Kohistani.
Books in Disadvantages Languages. Published
FLI has published a number of books that highlight important linguistic or cultural features of several local communities. FLI publishes two series: one academic series called “FLI Language and Cultural Series” and another vernacular series called “Maqami zaban-o-adab ka ishati silsila” (مقامی زبان و ادب کا اشاعتی سلسلہ). These publications help raise the status of these communities.
Interlinked disadvantage Language Communities.
FLI provided a platform for the disadvantages language communities of northern Pakistan to collaborate. Training events and workshops provide opportunity for such interaction. FLI-sponsored conferences are another opportunity for collaboration across local communities. This networking of communities, NGOs and CBOs has been deemed beneficial, as information and experiences are being shared. The various communities invite one another to participate in each other’s major events which in its turn encourage mutual learning and respect.
Provided Advocacy for Language rights and multilingual education
The situation in this area is very different now compared to when FLI was founded nine years ago. FLI’s advocating for language rights and multilingual education remains effective, and FLI’s motivational activities encourage the disadvantage language communities to recognize the importance of their mother-tongues and the need for education in the different mother-tongues. People from many language communities have organized themselves into community-based organizations and started to address their community issues in an organized way. The communities are now regularly celebrating International Mother Tongue Days and International Literacy Days in their respective areas, while in the past, such kind of activities were confined to larger cities.
FLI’s awareness-raising in relation to media and the government is also very effective. FLI publications, FLI-sponsored events, the distribution of brochures and the launching of a website have created awareness about the languages of the region. Journalists are in their turn using FLI’s information for their news, views and for writing articles. s
Established Linguistic Library for Researchers
FLI has established a library of books, articles and electronic resource. The collection of printed resources now exceeds 3000 volumes; additionally, more than 1000 electronic resources are also available. These resources, which include topics like linguistics, anthropology, literacy, orthography, lexicography, training and management, are being used more and more by Pakistani and non-Pakistani researchers, trainers and consultants.
Enabled people to Document their mother-tongues.
FLI enabled people from disadvantage languages communities to document their languages, to established MLE schools and solve other issues of their mother-tongues and languages communities. FLI trained more than 30 people from a dozen languages communities in basic documentation by facilitating a one-year so-called Discovery Program. About twenty men and women from three languages communities are now engaged full-time in running mother tongue schools, and many others are engaged in dictionary making, orthography development, producing literature and in developing local organizations. Former trainees are now training many others from their own language communities.