Afghan Minority Languages Go Online, for International Literacy Day

Kabul - For International Literacy Day, the Darakht-e Danesh Library announces the launch of its website interface in four minority languages of Afghanistan: Nooristani, Uzbeki, Munji and Swaji. 

The Darakht-e Danesh Library, a digital collection of learning materials for use in Afghanistan, has been available in Pashto, Dari and English since 2014. The addition of four new languages will make the library accessible to speakers of these minority languages, as well as contributing to preservation and awareness of these languages, and of Afghanistan’s rich linguistic heritage. 

“This is the first ever website in the Munji language. It’s something to celebrate,” said the Library Content Editor, Abdul Rahim Parwani, adding, “Users of the library will now be able to upload materials in these languages to become part of the Library’s collection. We hope this has planted a seed.”

Despite widespread illiteracy, Afghanistan is home to an impressive diversity of languages. There are 42 languages spoken, though many have no standardized orthography, and many of these languages have been largely neglected in education and in publishing. The consequences of this are becoming clear: only a decade ago, there were over 50 languages spoken, and many of the surviving languages are at risk of disappearing too. For instance, languages such as Inku, Mogholi, Pahlavani and Parya have no known speakers today; Wotapuri-Katarqalai is now categorized as extinct, and Domari, Ormuri and Tirahi are considered nearly extinct. 

Yet supporting literacy in minority languages and helping people get a strong foundation in their mother tongue can be a powerful boost to literacy in the two official languages, and ultimately lead to better success in school. Research from multilingual countries around the world proves that a strong foundation in the mother tongue is necessary for educational success in a second language. Further, providing literacy education in diverse minority languages can strengthen a culture of reading in Afghanistan.

The Library will continue its work expanding content in minority languages, recruiting volunteer translators and linguists to assist with this work. For now, the Library includes several titles from Hoopoe Books, which has produced bilingual versions of its storybooks for Afghan children in several minority languages. 

Media Inquiries:
Visit the library at www.darakhtdanesh.org or www.ddl.af