IAO believes proficiency in indigenous language a skill


The Indigenous Affairs Office believes that proficient speakers of the Chamorro and Carolinian languages should be considered skilled.

Indigenous Affairs resident executive Roman Tudela said he could not stress enough that both languages are slowly but surely dying and remains thankful that there are still a handful who can proficiently read, write, and speak both languages.

He said yesterday that these people should be considered skilled because they are rare.

“I strongly agree that this should be considered a specialized field of study and we need to recruit and train individuals who can read, write, and speak Chamorro or Carolinian,” he said.

The IAO has been fighting to provide an alternative certification process to proficient indigenous language speakers to fill the need for bilingual teachers in the Marianas. It is believed that this would allow these “professionals” a chance at an entry-level teaching job without the current requirements.

The Board of Education has not adopted the alternative certification process as the IAO had proposed, so the IAO decided to hold village meetings to gather feedback from the community.

Tudela said many community members, with the exception of a few individuals who had their concerns, supported the proposal.

After the village meetings, Tudela drafted a letter that summarized the comments and concerns of the community.

The letter was delivered to Board of Education chair Marylou Ada last Jan. 26, but the office has yet to respond to the letter.

Tudela said they received complaints from Tinian and Rota that many bilingual teachers do not actually know the language and are not Chamorro or Carolinian.

The meetings were conducted in Tanapag, Kagman, San Vicente, San Antonio, Carolinian Utt, Sinapalo Rota, and San Jose, Tinian and gained the participation of over 50 people.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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