The Khowar Academy is northern Pakistan’s initiative for peace, and for the promotion, documentation and preservation of endangered languages of Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Khowar is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in northern Pakistan by about 10 million people. It is the old language of the historic city of Chitral. Khowar is recognized even by speakers of its neighboring languages as a sweet language, well suited to reciting poetry, singing love songs, or chatting among friends. From Chitral to Ghizer, Khowar is a thriving, vibrant language used in every aspect of life by those who call it their mother-tongue. The goal of Khowar Academy is to preserve and develop the Khowar language and culture through research, documentation, and publications. This goal is being reached through the following activities:
- Development of an orthography and a dictionary of Khowar language in written form.
- Publication and collections of poetry, stories, proverbs, and other Khowar literature.
- Introduction of the Khowar language to schools in Chitral, to teach children and young people to read and write this language as well as to raise awareness of the value of education.
- Establishment of a library for research, education and documentation on the historical culture and population features of this region.
- Promotion of literature and culture through the establishment of a newspaper, magazine and radio programs in the Khowar language on Radio Pakistan.
- Working towards the eradication of drug abuse in the region and of “Kalashnikov culture”, or the attitudes and behavior in a social group that resolves political disputes using weapons.
- Entertaining good relationships with other language communities in Chitral and promoting peace in the region.
- Working to educate the public about health, hygiene and sanitation. This is the only organization providing free masks, disinfectant and gloves to passengers traveling to Pakistan to protect them from Covid-19.
For a long time, more than 55 languages in Pakistan had no written alphabet, and therefore little written tradition. However, about ten years ago, a team of linguistic experts, led by Rehmat Aziz Khan Chitrali of Khowar Academy, designed a phonetic and orthographic system and a linguistic keyboard and software development program to encourage endangered language communities in northern Pakistan; in a short time, the Academy has developed more than 120 native language keyboard software programs that can write all 69 languages of Pakistan.
Thanks to Khowar Academy’s language community initiative, many communities are now directly communicating for free in their mother tongue on cell phones and computers.
More information about Khowar Academy: https://sites.google.com/site/khowaracademy/home
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