First Aboriginal Textbook launches in Taiwan

First Aboriginal Textbook launches in Taiwan
Photo Credit: 屏東縣政府

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“When mainstream teaching materials can not teach the aboriginal kids how to understand themselves, then we must figure out a curriculum and teaching materials suitable for aboriginals to allow the kids to learn by what they are most familiar with.”

On August 25, the Pingtung County Government released the first mathematical textbook in Taiwan that is written from an aboriginal perspective. Names used in the examples in the textbook are no longer Xiao-ming or Xiao-hua (common nicknames in Taiwan), but names closer to the culture of aboriginal readers.

This textbook will be used in 23 elementary schools around Taiwan starting from next week, and the teachers are eager to teach the new materials. Lavuras Abaliwsu, leader of Drekay (name of an aboriginal tribe) says, “I’m very touched.”

Teachers and students of Timur Elementary School held the launch of the textbook today and every one was very enthusiastic.

Wu Li-hua, the chief editor of the textbooks from Timur Elementary School, says that apart from eight teachers, there are also elders from the tribes joining the editing process in hopes to formally include the aboriginal life and culture into the knowledge system.

Liberty Times reports, Magistrate of Pingtung County Pan Mong-an says that along with the establishment of the curriculum development center, the newly developed mathematical and Chinese teaching materials have already been tested in Taiwu elementary school and revised for a year. The experimental pedagogy carried out in a small-scale will be extended to key aboriginal schools starting from the new semester.

Liberty Times reports, according to the Director of Department of Education under Pingtung County, Yen Qing-xiang, says the teaching materials and curriculum are compiled and edited by professional teachers based on local aboriginal cultures and lives. Allowing aboriginal children to become the subject of education is a crucial step in terms of educational justice.

The curriculum development center posted on Facebook saying, “When mainstream teaching materials can not teach the aboriginal kids how to understand themselves, then we must figure out a curriculum and teaching materials suitable for aboriginals to allow the kids to learn by what they are most familiar with.”

“We hope the kids can take the textbooks home and let parents and Vuvu (grandparents or the elders in Payuan) join and connect with the learning experience of their kids.”

The Department of Education in Pingtung County points out that this experiment in curriculum materials has received attention from various parties. It can be said to be a milestone in the education of Taiwan’s aboriginals, and county and city governments have been sent to visit the learning center.

At the beginning of enforcing the self-created textbooks, some non-aboriginal teachers were worried that the materials might delay their teaching progress. But after the department of education rounded up the teachers and explained that the progress wouldn’t change, most of them could accept the fact and some teachers are ready to accept the aboriginal culture.

In addition, the Pingtung county government expects to establish the Payuan Experimental Primary School in five years.

National Alliance of Parents Organization Chairman Wu Fu-bin says the education policy stretches from Taipei to the entire island in the long run. But local culture is like the foundation of a tall building. The twelve-year education system needs to use local culture as a foundation in order to stabilize the tall-building of education. He also says the fact that local governments are ahead of the central government is admirable.

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang

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