The legislature’s Internal Administration Committee on Thursday reviewed proposals that aim to revive Aboriginal languages.
The Executive Yuan and the legislative caucuses proposed seven drafts for the proposed law.
Saying that Aboriginal languages are rapidly “dying out,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kolas Yotaka, an Amis, called on educational and Aboriginal authorities to work together to establish a legal foundation for Aboriginal languages.
Government agencies should promote the use of Aboriginal texts, so that source materials can be provided to TV channels and radio stations for them to create programs to promote the languages and to cultivate Aboriginal-language teachers, Kolas said.
Due to the past Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime’s policy to assimilate Aborigines into Han people, Aboriginal and other languages considered by the regime as “dialects” were banned to give way to Mandarin education, which marked the beginning of the decline of Aboriginal languages that has continued for 60 years, she said.
“Aboriginal languages are endangered and colonization in the form of denying Aborigines their languages is still happening today,” she said.
KMT Legislator Chien Tung-ming (簡東明), a Paiwan, said that Aboriginal languages were nearly snuffed out due to the success of Mandarin education.
Chien said he was fortunate enough to learn his mother tongue before he transferred during third grade to study in the city.
It is important for Aborigines to be taught their languages at a young age, Chien said.
KMT Legislator Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), an Amis, said that Aboriginal languages represent the collective wisdom of Aborigines’ ancestors, but fewer Aborigines, particularly those living in the cities, speak their native languages today, which risks breaking cultural links.
He called on young Aborigines to return to their communities during summer vacations to learn their mother tongues.
Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod said that the bill, if passed, would help establish a workforce for Aboriginal-language education.
Deputy Minister of Education Tsai Ching-hwa (蔡清華) said that the draft bill proposes a minimum monthly salary of NT$35,000 for Aboriginal-language teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and NT$32,000 for high-school graduates.
The ministry has given the task of setting up a vetting mechanism for the teachers to National Dong Hwa University, he said.
Certified teachers will be paid between NT$520,000 and NT$570,000 annually with benefits, he said.
Icyang Parod added that the government plans to allocate NT$400 million to hire part-time Aboriginal-language teachers.