Pro-localization groups and academics yesterday called on newly inaugurated Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華), who assumed office on Wednesday, to lobby for an education bill that would help Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) become a part of the junior-high school curriculum.
Union of Education in Taiwan chairperson Cheng Cheng-iok (鄭正煜) told a press conference in Taipei that he and other advocates of Hoklo education have been pushing for years for the language to be included in the curriculum, but have met with objections from the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Committee.
“The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has deprived people of their right to learn their native language for more than 60 years and we will reclaim what was taken from us,” he said.
“If the ministry refuses to submit a bill to the legislature for a vote, more protests will follow,” Cheng added.
National Cheng Kung University professor of Taiwanese literature Chiung Wi-vun (蔣為文) cited Malaysia and Vietnam as examples, saying that people of Chinese descent account for merely 20 percent and 1 percent respectively of the nations’ populations, but both have included Chinese in their national education curricula.
“Hoklo is Taiwan’s native language. With ethnic Taiwanese accounting for 85 percent of the nation’s population, we have only one hour of Hoklo class for elementary school students per week and Hoklo is not even in the junior-high school curriculum,” he said. “This shows that Taiwan has trailed its neighbors in terms of the preservation of its mother tongue.”
Calling the KMT’s policy on Hoklo “oppressive,” Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安) said: “People are indoctrinated with the idea that they should not speak their mother tongue. This is intolerable. Just because Hoklo is treated with oppression does not mean it is insignificant or nonexistent,” she said.
Ho Sin-han (何信翰), an associate professor at Chung Shan Medical University, said that the education bill has the highest rates of approval among legislators from both the pan-green and pan-blue camps. He called on Wu to fulfill former Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling’s (蔣偉寧) pledge to make Hoklo a mandatory course in the junior-high school curriculum.
Chiang in October last year pledged at the legislature that he would make Hoklo a mandatory course for junior-high school students.