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Rupantar, Bangladesh (Contact: Rafiqul Islam (conversation from COLLaGE - the Commonwealth of Learning's Leadership, Governance and Empowerment Community) RUPANTAR was founded in 1992 and started its operations in 1994 in the Khulna and Bagerhat districts. RUPANTAR functions as a development organisation with special characteristics towards contributing to mainstream development processes in Bangladesh. RUPANTAR works for the establishment of people’s rights with a positive outlook towards development through utilization of their method of development communication. It creates awareness at the grass root level through theatre and popular publications. It also draws the attention of government, non-government organizations, and international development communication specialists to this issue.
Culture and Development
The connection between culture and development works at least in three ways:
- Cultural diversity can be used as a national asset for developing the tourism industry. Therefore, it is essential to restore and preserve heritage, various traditions, folk songs, dances, dramas and theatre etc.
- Culture can be used as a means for building awareness among people, especially among the illiterate. In this respect, theater, folk songs and other indigenous forms of entertainment can be used to raise awareness and inform people of new ideas. This form of entertainment media can also be used to strengthen the participatory process, organizational capacity building, conflict resolution and towards ensuring good governance.
- Culture can be used to counter the negative forces or impacts that prevail as social customs, norms and beliefs having detrimental effects on economic and social development.
Rupantar attempts to address culture-development connection in all three ways. In facilitating social transformation, they undertakes initiatives for advocacy and raising awareness, disseminating information at the grassroots levels, etc. by using culture. They promote theaters, popular publications and traditional folk songs to communicate developmental and other social issues to the people. They revive, restore and use various forms of local culture. They use positive culture to remove prejudice, incorrect information, myths, superstitions, etc. and in the process try to unite the community and build social cohesion.
- We believe, culture and sustainable development are closely connected. The culture of a society manifests itself in many distinct ways through creative expression (history, songs, dance, music, literature, architecture, art etc.) and community practices (traditional healing methods, traditional natural resources management, various social and religious ceremonies etc). Although the identity of a society is largely determined by its culture, yet is difficult for any society to have a static sense of the culture. Both society and culture are changing simultaneously.
- We have experienced that illiterate or semi-literate people do respond spontaneously on the messages and themes presented through our cultural performances and as a result the people show positive attitude towards learning and changing according to the need of the society.
- We also support these events through popular publications as reading materials. We are successful in our working areas but to spread the process on a horizontal line throughout the county the process of ODL will be of much supporting to our cultural activities for the particular group of learners.
- Recently, we are receiving technical support and directions through COL with persons like Dr. Tanyss, Dr. Vashuda, Dr. Karpaga Kumaravel and others. Their support and inspiration made us think that we shall be able to develop some ODL materials using Folk Cultura and tradition throughout the country on governance issues.
- We invite all our online discussion holders for their valuable suggestions about governance education using folk cultural media, especially for the local elected representatives and women leaders at the local level.
- Source: http://groups.google.com/group/collage-community/browse_thread/thread/6dde5da24814c05?hl=en
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