Schools across the country face a shortage of more than 800 Aboriginal teachers as the Aboriginal Education Act (原住民族教育法), amended in May, stipulates that as many as one-third of the faculty at schools in Aboriginal townships has to be of Aboriginal descent.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) said that the legal requirement may not be easy to meet, as there may be a lack of both vacancies and qualified Aboriginal teachers. He said the Ministry of Education should help find vacancies and accelerate training for Aboriginal teachers.
Ministry officials and teachers have also expressed concern about the regulation.
Many teachers said they are worried that there are already more teachers than required as the ratio of children in the population is decreasing. They said it may be a great challenge to abide by the rule, especially in counties with large Aboriginal populations such as Taitung, Hualien and Pingtung.
Chang Ming-wen (張明文), director of the ministry’s Department of Teacher Training and Art Education, said it would be difficult to provide new openings without affecting teachers already employed in the areas, and added that the best way to follow the policy would be to fill vacancies with Aboriginal teachers whenever they appear.
As for new teacher training, many universities, including the National Pingtung University of Education, have agreed to create special curricula for training Aboriginal teachers, he said.
Wu Chung-tai (吳忠泰), president of the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions, said that while the amendment was made with good intentions, local governments have reacted differently since May, with some actively working to meet the requirement and some saying compliance is impossible.
National Alliance of Parents’ Organizations president Wu Fu-pin (吳福濱) said the requirement is to promote and pass on Aboriginal cultures and that the ministry should more actively assist local governments and discuss budgets with the Council of Indigenous Peoples.
According to the Pingtung County Government’s Department of Education, there are 35 Aboriginal schools in the county, including 29 elementary schools and six intermediate schools. So far, two elementary schools and four intermediate schools have yet to meet the threshold, with a total shortage of 11 teachers.
The department’s director, Yen Ching-hsiang (顏慶祥), said that it would not be too difficult for the county to meet the requirements of the law within five years and that the county may achieve the goal within two years.
Figures released by the Hualien County Government’s Department of Education showed that among 126 elementary and junior-high schools, 86 are Aboriginal schools, with 1,400 teachers. To meet the legal requirement, the county would need at least 460 more Aboriginal teachers. There are not quite 200 at the moment.
The department’s director, Chen Yu-ming (陳玉明), said providing jobs for new Aboriginal teachers was a very complicated issue because the number of classes has dropped in recent years, while there is also a surplus in the number of teachers.
In Taitung, at least 400 of the county’s 1,200 teachers should be Aboriginal according to the law, however, the number is only a little more than 100.
The Taitung County Government’s Department of Education director Lin Hui-huang (林輝煌) said that the demand for teachers would only diminish because of the decreasing school rolls.
It is next to impossible to have one third of the teachers Aboriginal, Lin said.
Additional reporting by Lo Hsin-chen, Huang Ming-tang and Hua Meng-ching