Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lok Virsa – an educational institution

MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com

The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, known as Lok Virsa, established in 1974, is a specialized organization with a mandate for field research, collection, documentation, cultural studies, preservation and dissemination of Pakistan’s folklore, oral tradition and indigenous cultural heritage. In order to give substantial legal status to Lok Virsa, broadening its area of activities, and enabling it to generate its own resources other than government grants, the existing resolution has been converted into an ordinance, promulgated by the President on September 17, 2002.

The president, while graciously inaugurating Pakistan’s first Ethnological Museum, was pleased to direct that the Museum should be fully utilized by students and research scholars to gain understanding of the magnificent cultural heritage of the country. In line with this instruction, Lok Virsa is making all out efforts to transform itself from the existing museum into a teaching facility, similar to a teaching hospital.

Within a decade, Lok Virsa has grown from a fledging endeavour to create a science of folklore, into a complex whose projects and activities span the roots of the entire nation. In accordance with the directive, Lok Virsa has worked out a three years plan of “Museum Educational Programme and Expansion of Public Facilities.”

In order to educate the young generation and students about the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan, the Heritage Museum has launched a Museum Educational Programme in collaboration with leading universities and colleges. Under this programme, students are invited from different educational institutions such as Fatimah Jinnah Women’s University, Quaid-e-Azam University, Punjab University, Baha-ud-Din Zakariya University, Peshawar University, International Islamic University, National College of Arts and other leading universities for field research and dissertations in different social subjects to fulfil the requirements for their M.Sc and M.Phil degrees. 100 students from five leading universities and academic institutions (20 from each) will benefit from this programme annually, by way of receiving financial support for fieldwork in remote areas of the country.

Annual Skilled Training Programme is a collaborative venture between the Heritage Museum, Ministry of Education and its affiliated organizations, wherein Master Artisans in different craft fields and recipients of the President’s Medal for Pride of Performance will be invited to hold workshops in the Museum to present their skills to the younger generation.

Lok Virsa will organize an annual 10-day Artisans-at-Work and Craft Bazaar exhibition to promote the cultural heritage of Pakistan and to provide an opportunity to the Master Artisans to display and sell their crafts, without the involvement of middlemen. At least 50 Master Artisans in specialized crafts fields will be invited to participate, bringing with them their creative works. This will be an annual event of the Heritage Museum, which will become self-generating after the third year.

It will be a vital aim for the Heritage Museum to improve the image of Pakistan abroad and to protect the rich cultural heritage of the country. Under this programme named as ‘Collaboration and Facilitation of Foreign Scholars’, six leading scholars from different leading foreign universities will be invited annually. They will be encouraged to carry out original research work on Pakistan’s rich culture and society. 18 scholars will take part in this programme over the span of three years.

Lok Virsa has already established the Pakistan National Museum of Ethnology/Heritage Museum as an extension of its existing facilities. A small committee under the guidance of Mr. Uxi Mufti, Executive Director of Lok Virsa, a connoisseur of Art and Folklore and Programme Executive (Coordination and Special Visits) Mr. Anwaarul Haq, a true workaholic officer, with the help of other officials and staff, will be responsible for timely execution of this project. One hopes that this project will constitute the best show-window on Pakistan and provide a truly reflective cultural attraction available to dignitaries and visiting heads of state in Islamabad.

Published in Daily THe Post on 6th Feb, 2006

MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR
Islamabad

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