Development of cultural identity in students of secondary schools in Baltistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


Schools as important sites of socialization play a key role in nurturing, enculturation and/or acculturation of children and shape their present and future identities. Numerous research studies (Foster, 1999; Matthews & Jenkins, 1999; Tse, 2007; Bass, 2008) show that schooling as an important mode of formal education has been used as a powerful instrument for both cultural and national identity formation of children. Under the multiple internal and external pressures from family, peer groups, society, religion, schooling (formal education) and media, a student internalizes certain behaviors and ways of life that form his/her cultural identity. This is the social dimension of one's personal identity which is a compound of past experiences, present circumstances, future aspirations and preferences of the individual. This study explores the role of schooling in the development of students' cultural identity in order to observe and understand the influence of school processes on identity formation. The study focused on the cultural identities of ethnic communities, in this case the 'Balti cultural identity' among secondary school students. Here, Balti represents the native­ speakers of the Balti language residing in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan, and Laddakh, Kargil, and Nobra parts of India. The study used ethnographic approach of qualitative investigation with the critical lens. Data has been analyzed by using critical discourse analysis (CDA) techniques. The research participants included students of secondary classes (both boys and girls) and teachers of two government secondary schools in Baltistan. Interviews of teachers and head teachers, focus group discussions with students, and school observation were used to generate and collect relevant _ data. Four specific cultural identifiers: language, religion, music and ceremonies were focused on. The findings reflect that school processes have major emphasis on the inculcation of national and religious identities. Local language and music have no place in the schools except in the form of religious poetry or national songs. Further, the nature of all the school ceremonies and celebrations is either religious or national. Consequently, the local language and cultural identity is marginalized to a great extent.

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