Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Council passes another Aboriginal language initiative

By Hsieh Wen-hua and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Council of Indigenous Peoples said it has passed an initiative to help preserve the nation’s Aboriginal languages through further financial incentives, hoping to rear Aboriginal children in environments where they can hear their languages being spoken from birth.

Starting from October this year, the council will give an additional subsidy of NT$3,000 (US$100) for every Aborigine who becomes the caretaker of one child, ranging from newborn to two years old, and who has obtained caretaker qualifications, received a certificate in Aboriginal languages, or attended and passed 126 hours of caretaker classes.

The council added that it would also subsidize every family who hire such caretakers with NT$2,000 per month.

The Ministry of the Interior already subsidizes qualified caretakers with NT$3,000 per month.

According to the council, the funding for the initiative — totaling NT$20 million — is to come from Public Welfare Lottery rebates, and it will be able to subsidize up to 260 caretakers and 700 families.

The head of the council’s Education and Cultural Affairs section, Chen Kun-sheng (陳坤昇), said yesterday that the current regulations, under which children only start learning their Aboriginal tongues when they are in elementary school, have a very limited effect, hence the council’s initiative to start the learning process from the cradle.

Both caretakers and families who hire caretakers can apply for the subsidies at their local city hall, or the county or township offices where their residences are registered, after which the council will hire an Aboriginal elder well versed in the applicable language to interview a caretaker candidate, he said.

The council will also hire 30 additional staff members to make house calls and ensure that the caretaker is interacting with the child using the appropriate Aboriginal language, Chen said.

He added that a caretaker working for a family of the Paiwan tribe, for example, should be teaching an infant to use kama instead of the Mandarin baba (爸爸, father), and vuvu instead of the Mandarin words for grandfather and grandmother.

Caretakers who look after three infants are entitled to NT$18,000 in government subsidies per month and together with caretaking fees paid by the parents, a caretaker can have a monthly income of NT$50,000, Chen said.

Meanwhile, the council said it would hire a further 30 Aboriginal language assistant teachers. These positions are open to any person who is an Aborigine, has taken classes in a department of early childhood educare after high school, or has graduated with a diploma from such a department.

The council is to start accepting applications in November and its examinations are to be held in January next year, Chen said, adding that assistant teachers who qualify would be sent to Aboriginal-language daycare centers in counties and cities with large Aborigine populations.

The council would also send its assistant teachers to regions based on tribe population ratios, the reason being that some tribes had very few children in kindergartens, he said.

For instance, the Thao tribe currently has only one child between three and six years old that is studying at an Aboriginal-language kindergarten, Chen said.

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