Indigenous Education for Democracy – Taipei Times

  • By Lee Chuan-hsin 李川信

The Ministry of Education established the Indigenous Education Committee in 2002 to develop a master plan and propose the development of a policy for the implementation of Indigenous cultural education.

The proposal was to set a long-term goal for course development, resource promotion and talent cultivation, but was later suspended for eight years due to the political transition.

Founded last year, the Center for Native Education integrates educational resources across Taiwan and publishes journals such as Newsletter of Taiwan Studies (台灣學通訊), Research in Taiwan Studies (台灣學研究), and ChaiTe Homeland Education (在地).

These journals serve as educational references for teachers to engage with and inspire the next generation to identify with Taiwan and the values ​​of democracy.

To consolidate the foundations of indigenous cultural education formed by the Taiwanese Cultural Association a century ago with the support of Taiwanese democracy pioneer Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), the ministry invited experts and scholars to attend a conference intended to be a retrospective of 30 years of Aboriginal cultural education and to look to the future.

The ministry also launched a collaborative project with seven public institutions for the first time this summer. Using each institution’s collections and resources, he held 37 workshops for teachers, helping them integrate native materials into their teaching so they could strengthen the connection between students and Taiwan during their lessons.

It is expected that there will be further collaborations between private institutions and experts in history or literature, thus facilitating the formation of local knowledge networks.

Language is the medium through which culture is transmitted and recorded. Taiwan went through a linguistic dark age when native languages ​​– such as Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Hakka, and indigenous languages ​​– of different ethnicities were suppressed.

After the National Languages ​​Development Law (國家語言發展法) was passed in 2019, the Executive Yuan announced in May that it would invest NT$30 billion ($971 million) over five years to promote national languages.

Starting this month, the program would also launch mother tongue learning to promote language revitalization.

The late writer Yeh Shih-tao (葉石濤) said, “No land, no literature.” Directed by a private crew, the documentary Yeh Shih-tao, A Taiwan Man was shot with genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for Taiwanese literature.

The documentary He’s Still Young emotionally portrays the famous poet Wu Sheng (吳晟), showing his sincerity and passion for this nation.

The Taiwanese Cultural Association has also partnered with Ju Percussion Group to present a musical production that aims to enable more Taiwanese to understand Chiang’s heritage and heritage, while continuing the national mission of cultural enlightenment that has started a century ago.

Chuang Wan-shou (莊萬壽), a professor dedicated to establishing Taiwan’s cultural autonomy from China’s threats and intimidation, published the book Taiwan Spirit: The Foundation for Taiwan to Thrive, for encourage Taiwanese to develop an appreciation of historical memory. The book aims to cultivate national identity and a sense of patriotism to take up arms if the country needs to be defended.

The government aspires to form modern citizens with a humanistic spirit through the implementation and promotion of indigenous cultural education.

With the voluntary support and participation of civilians, Taiwan could shape a communal and democratic society that showcases the Taiwanese spirit, inspires patriotism, safeguards universal values ​​and defends our homeland against aggressors.

Lee Chuan-hsin is a member of the Northern Taiwan Society and president of the Taiwan Society.

Translated by Rita Wang

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