5.9 PRESERVING CULTURE AND HERITAGE While Maldives is experiencing unprecedented levels of progress and modernisation, globalisation (the spread of popular mass culture) is leading slowly to the loss of a sense of Maldivian identity and community especially among Maldivian youth. This phenomenon is of concern because it is the sense of national identity, that forms the foundation of national pride and stability that has allowed for growth and modernization. Thus, a redefining of the Maldivian national identity through its culture and heritage has become of utmost importance. ISSUES 1. There is an urgent need for documentation, preservation and conservation of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Maldives. The potential for tourism to enhance and conserve Maldivian cultural heritage needs to be recognised. At the same time inter-ministerial and institutional coordination, which is essential to preserve and promote Maldivian heritage, needs to be strengthened. 2. Intangible Maldivian heritage (folklore, music, crafts, medicine etc) and traditions are disappearing. Not enough documentation and research has been done to make this heritage relevant to modern day life or to develop it for the tourist market. A clear mandate needs to be granted for a competent authority to research and promote traditional Maldivian handicrafts and explore the unsatisfied demand for local traditional products. Furthermore, the rich oral traditions of the Maldives such as mythological stories of love told in raivaru (poetry) have potential for development into performing arts. 3. The greatest constraint for the culture and heritage sector is a general lack of awareness of the importance of protecting the national tangible and intangible heritage for ensuring its preservation and development. Enough emphasis on Maldivian geography, history and heritage (tangible and intangible) is not provided in primary and secondary schools. 4. Out of the forty odd staff at the NCLHR, the primary national agency for cultural management and protection, only two are graduates. No trained experts (or even graduates) are available in the fields of history, archaeology, conservation and preservation, heritage management, museum management or museology, archive management or any related fields. 5. The Historical and Cultural Property Law of the Republic of Maldives (Law No: 27/79) was passed in 1979. The law is vague and does not clearly define cultural and historical property and has no rules regarding trade and export of heritage items. Therefore, an appropriate legal framework is essential for promoting and preserving culture and heritage. Policy 52 Preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the Maldives Strategies · Increase emphasis on teaching Dhivehi language, Maldivian history and culture and geography in the national curriculum. · Increase the use of the mother tongue, i.e., the Dhivehi language in schools. · Improve inter-ministerial and institutional cooperation and co-ordination in heritage education, preservation and promotion. · Increase the utilisation of resources (print as well as audio-video media) on Maldivian cultural heritage in course materials at school. · Increase public awareness amongst specific target groups such as Atoll chiefs, youth and school children regarding culture and heritage for sustainable development, preservation of culture and heritage as well as enrichment of national identity. · Expand the use of Dhivehi language in the area of Information Technology. Policy 53 Develop institutional and local technical capacity for conservation and research into language, history, culture and related areas Strategies · Train specialists in Heritage management, History, Archaeology, Museology, Archives management, Anthropology and Linguistics. · Seek specialist support from abroad to conduct training programmes in heritage preservation. · Create a separate heritage management section within the NCLHR. · Conduct a thorough review of the scope, function, organisational structure, and administration of these institutions. A management audit should also be carried out of the main institutions responsible for heritage management and cultural development and adjustments in their management should be made accordingly. Policy 54 Strengthen the legal framework for the protection of the national heritage Strategies · Draft a law covering all different types of cultural heritage and cultural property. · Make an official national inventory of Maldivian heritage and document each heritage item. Policy 55 Explore the potential for tourism to conserve and enhance Maldivian culture and heritage Strategies · Explore the feasibility of developing heritage tours for tourists. · Initiate a program for promoting manufacturing of Maldivian handicrafts by local artisan for sale as souvenirs to tourists. 5.10 MEDIA IN THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS National radio and television services, and publication of newspapers and journals, have made tremendous progress over the past twenty years. Radio and television have been, and still are, an important public tool for promoting national unity, information provision, and awareness raising and entertainment. However, the full potential of the media (radio, television, print media, and internet) as an agent of socio-economic development has yet to be realized. This potential of the media as an agent of development is reflected in this Plan, unlike previous NDPs. ISSUES 1. Greatest obstacle for enhancing the role of media in the development process is due to lack of an adequate number of trained people in the various media services (television, radio and news media). 2. Over the past NDP period, both television and radio development has been following concrete plans. However, these plans need to be brought together into a comprehensive long-term plan that incorporates television, radio and print media development. 3. Although guidelines regarding journalistic rights and responsibilities are available, these are not widely understood or followed by the journalistic community. And enforcement of these guidelines are also challenging. Therefore, strategies are needed to create guidelines incorporating the input of journalists and a mechanism to enforce them. 4. National radio and television is accessible to those living on all islands, but many islands need to utilize satellite dish-antennas to access the signal, limiting access to those who can afford it. 5. Accurate information on radio and television usage and media content is unavailable. Such information is essential to plan media development and to minimize its negative social impact. It is believed that unregulated access to international satellite television viewing is having a negative social impact, particularly on children. 6. While internet can become a powerful medium for communication and information provision, the high cost of using internet limits it usage in the country, particularly in the Atolls. Policy 56 Strengthen the technical capacity of the media services Strategies · Conduct a needs assessment and produce a human resource development plan to enhance the provision of media services in the country. · Provide opportunities for media specialists to obtain necessary long-term and higher education training abroad. · Increase opportunities for local media professionals to obtain professional experience abroad. · Introduce local training courses of good standards for media personnel, including television and radio production and journalism. Policy 57 Improve the quality of broadcasting and media content Strategies · Conduct a study to identify needs to improve and expand media services and develop a long- term strategic plan. · Review the existing guidelines regarding journalistic responsibilities and freedom. · Set-up a media association or board (an arms-length organization) to set standards, regulate and raise the quality of media content. · Pave the way, through private participation, for the public to view good quality international channels, particularly those focusing on education and current affairs. · Utilize Information Technology to expand equitable access to media, particularly for those in the Atolls, at an affordable rate. · Increase educational and current affairs content in television and radio. · Facilitate private involvement in the provision of internet.
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