Taiwan aiming to give indigenous people more say in education planning

10-May-2019 Intellasia | Focus Taiwan | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Aboriginal tribes in Taiwan will be able to play a greater role in the planning and implementation of indigenous education in their communities if the Legislature passes an amendment bill that was approved by the Cabinet Thursday.

Under the draft amendment to the Education Act for Indigenous Peoples, the government would consult with aboriginal peoples, indigenous tribes, and people in traditional communities on the indigenous studies curriculum and other matters pertaining to educational institutions up to the level of senior high school in the country’s designated indigenous regions.

As the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law requires that the government respect indigenous peoples’ right to choose their lifestyle, customs and clothing, “the implementation of indigenous education, therefore, should factor in the thinking, values and organisation patterns of such groups,” the amendment bill states.

It also states that if necessary, schools in the indigenous peoples’ regions may invite local representatives of aboriginal groups to sit on the curriculum development committees.

For schools outside the regions, special attention should be paid to the respective cultural characteristics and value systems of Taiwan’s various indigenous tribes when selecting and editing textbooks, according to the draft amendment.

Taiwan officially recognises 16 indigenous tribes and has several designated regions that are home to aboriginal peoples, their history and culture.

As part of an effort to improve the indigenous education system, the draft bill stipulates that aboriginal teachers who receive government-funded training should be assigned to schools in accordance with their aboriginal language specialties.

In addition, schools with a student body that is more than 50 percent indigenous should give priority to qualified aboriginal candidates when hiring directors and presidents, according to the draft amendment.

Another noteworthy inclusion in the draft bill is a clause that would allow all students up the senior high school level to study aboriginal languages, history and culture, choices that are available only to indigenous students at the moment.

The bill would also allow government incentives to private organisations so that they can provide indigenous education to the general public and promote greater awareness of cultural diversity.

“It is our hope that not only aboriginal students, but all the other students, school faculty members and the general public would have a better appreciation of cultural diversity and develop a better understanding of and respect for indigenous communities,” Huang Wen-ling, head of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Planning, told a press conference after a Cabinet meeting.

The bill is seen as part of the government’s effort to fulfill President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 campaign pledge to build a more comprehensive indigenous educational system.



Category: Taiwan

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