The Role of Mother Tongue at Primary Level in the Preservation of Culture

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Khan, Shahida Habib
Mother Tongue , Primary School , Culture Preservation
The UN Charter recognizes the right to culture as a human right and UNESCO mandates the preservation and enhancement of indigenous cultures – reflecting how the international community values cultural diversity. Ignoring the acculturating effects of education in foreign languages in indigenous societies comes in conflict with these mandates. Current research in the instructional languages of primary school education usually revolves around the learning advantages. But the focus on learning advantages has diminished the impact of instructional language on culture to relative oblivion, despite the acculturating effects visibly found in indigenous, multilingual, and pluralist societies; effects that threaten the existence of many indigenous cultures in the wake of globalization. As remarked by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in his book titled The Future of African Literature, language is “a system of communication” and “the carrier of culture”, therefore, striking a balance between its role in education and culture is essential. Indigenous culture and language should not be sacrificed by education that seeks to educate for inclusion in a world viewed as a global; the latter representative of the western culture and English language. Therefore, a strategy is needed to use education systems both as carriers of indigenous cultures and participation in a global world. This topic requires continuous research. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of mother tongue at the primary school level in the preservation of culture. For this purpose, the relationship of Pukhtunwali culture with Pukhtu language was investigated. This qualitative study consisted of interviews with six primary school teachers teaching grade five social studies curriculum in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. The teachers were asked to share their perspectives on the role of Pukhtu language used as a medium of instruction at the primary school level in the preservation of Pukhtun culture in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Data analysis identified five themes that showed variations in the perspectives of teachers regarding the role of Pukhtu language in the preservation of Pukhtunwali if used as a medium of instruction in schools.
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