Fri, May 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Aboriginal language bill passes committee review

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod, center, on Wednesday takes part in a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee in Taipei to review a bill to promote Aboriginal languages.

Photo: CNA

The Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee on Wednesday passed a review of a bill to promote Aboriginal languages, which would grant them the legal status of “national languages” and funnel subsidies for their promotion.

Following two days of clause-by-clause review, which saw the participation of Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod, the bill was passed by the committee and is to be submitted to a general assembly without further cross-caucus negotiations.

Local governments with authority over designated Aboriginal areas are to be responsible for hiring full-time staff to promote Aboriginal languages, according to the bill, which also requires the central government to help local governments and Aboriginal communities create organizations to promote Aboriginal languages.

The central government must consult Aboriginal communities and create Aboriginal-language dictionaries, databases and neologisms for their use, the bill reads.

The central government would also be responsible for regularly surveying the native language fluency of Aborigines, as well as organizing free certification processes for language competency.

Three years after the bill is promulgated into law, people of Aboriginal descent taking special civil servant exams or applying for public grants to study abroad would be required to acquire native language fluency certificates, according to the draft.

The committee said the bill was drafted to follow the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, allowing Aboriginal languages to be used as official languages in the areas they are commonly spoken.

The bill stipulates that government offices, schools and state-owned businesses may use the common local language in official documents, while Aborigines may speak their native tongue for administrative and judicial purposes, with the central government responsible for hiring translators in such situations.

Schools would be required to provide Aboriginal-language classes under the guidelines for the 12-year basic national education curriculum and the central government is to encourage the use of Aboriginal languages in classrooms.

Educational authorities are to train teachers with the appropriate language fluency in order to help local governments, which are to employ such teachers full time, the bill reads.

The bill requires the central government to list budget items dedicated to the preservation of Aboriginal languages, while media content that has received state subsidies to promote Aboriginal languages must use those languages for at least 50 percent of their broadcast time.

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