SCERT’s Workshop On Shina language Highlights Utility Of Mother Tongue

Government must provide funds to uplift Shina language: Ex Div Com

By Farooq Shah

SRINAGAR: The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Kashmir Division, Tuesday invited many Shina language experts to participate in a three-day workshop entitled "Shina Language Script Learning"  in Gurez—a valley located in the north Kashmir's Bandipore district some 123 kilometres from here.

The 'Education in Languages' Wing of the SCERT had rushed in a team of academic officers to train some 35 participants in content development in Shina language—a provision enshrined in the newly introduced education policy aka NEP-2020.

Former Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Director School Education Kashmir, Masood Hassan Samoon, who is a native of Gurez and is well-versed with Shina language, was the guest of honour at the event. Other language experts included a former Zonal Education Officer, Niyaz Ahmad Mapnoo and a Pratham NGO activist, Bilal Ahmad Sheikh besides academic officer, SCERT, Ashfaq Anjum.

The workshop, which is being conducted at Boys Higher Secondary School, Dawar, was earlier inaugurated by Principal Secretary, School Education, B K Singh via Zoom. Director SCERT, J&K, Professor Veena Pandita, also attended the event from her Jammu office.

Highlighting the importance of mother tongue, B K Singh stressed upon the participants to uplift Shina in a manner that it becomes a guiding force for the entire Shina community.

“Mother tongue is provides a definite shape to our emotions and thoughts,” Singh said. “Learning in your mother tongue is crucial in building up of other skills namely critical thinking, learning a second language etc.”

Prof Pandita said that mother tongue has a huge influence in defining the personality of an individual. “It’s not a healthy sign to learn any language on the expense of your mother tongue,” She said. “Knowing your mother tongue is a matter of pride that helps you connect with your cultural identity in a better manner.”

NEP 2020, Prof Pandita said, stresses on learning mother tongue along with other languages. “Early schooling in a child's mother tongue can improve learning, increase student participation and help reduce the number of dropouts,” she said.

While underling the causes why it couldn’t develop into a full-fledged language, Masood Samoon lamented the lack of a proper script of Shina language for the documentation purpose.

“Largely, it remained confined to some of the inaccessible pockets among many mountainous regions,” Samoon said. “Moreover, it’s a pretty difficult language and all the previous attempts to frame its script failed due to many reasons.”

A successful script, he said, is the one that has computer compatibility and sadly Shina can’t be written on a computer.

“We need to introduce the learning of Shina language via some android app which has a tri-lingual facility to make the words, phrases and sentences understand easily with audio and video help,” Samoon recommended. “I can work as a think-tank only but the major component would be to finance such project.”

He said he has already worked on the grammar component of Shina language and is currently dedicating his time on building its dictionary.

“I’ve already prepared the textbooks for the grades 4, 5 and 6,” Samoon said. “Because the task ahead is gigantic, it would invariably require a total commitment from all the stakeholders in preparing the textbooks from grade 1 to 12.”

The workshop will go on for another two days wherein the participants shall learn more on how the language would be taken on board to frame textbooks for Shina speaking children.

Dr Shabnum from the SCERT, Kashmir Division, coordinated the workshop.

Shina is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan family spoken by the Shina people and there still is not a standard orthography associated with the language. A number of schemes have been proposed and there is no single writing system used by all of the speakers of the Shina language

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