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GILGIT: A project of integrating folk music into school curriculum was launched in Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday.

Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT), a Swat-based organisation, has launched the ‘Pakistan Mountain Folk Music School Integration’ project in Gilgit, Hunza and Ghizer districts.

The project is funded by USAID through its Small Grants and Ambassador Funds Programme.

The launch ceremony of the project was held in Aliabad of Hunza, attended by a large number of local people, including women, artists and schoolchildren. Schoolchildren played folk music and sang songs in local languages and in Urdu. The music teachers employed with the project also presented their music in the event.

Aziz Ali Dad, a noted scholar presided over the ceremony, while Sherbaz Ali Khan, a renowned poet of Burushaski language, was the chief guest.

IBT executive director Zubair Torwali said Gilgit-Baltistan hosted a number of indigenous cultures such as Shina, Burushaski, Wakhi, Balti, Khowar and Domaaki (Dawoodi) and presented a beautiful tapestry of folk music, indigenous knowledge and biodiversity.

He said the region was counted among the most diverse regions in the world, however, the locals saw fading of the cultural diversity in the wake of modernity.

This loss of the beautiful diversity in the land of high peaks, pastures, glaciers and the knot of three vast mountain ranges will be a tremendous loss of indigenous knowledge, identity and of the cultural richness of Pakistan, he added.

The project director said the project was based on the significant concept of integrating the folk music of four communities -- Shina, Wakhi, Burushaski and Khowar -- in schools in areas like Gaukoch, Gilgit, Gojal, Shapurson and Shimsal. He said in addition to teaching of folk music at the selected schools the project also aimed at producing a curriculum for music to be incorporated in schools.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018