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.
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
· 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
· Train specialists in Heritage management, History, Archaeology, Museology, Archives
management, Anthropology and Linguistics.
· Seek specialist support from abroad to conduct training programmes in heritage
· 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
· 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
· 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.
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
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
· 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
· 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
· 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.