SANTIAGO – The municipality of Recoleta will be adding Mapuche language and culture classes to its public school curriculum. The project started as language courses and has evolved into an official subject within the school curriculum. Recoleta makes this announcement in celebration of what the United Nations has declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
This announcement follows the confirmation of a recent decree that requires Chilean schools that exceed 20% Mapuche enrollment to teach Mapudungun (the official language of the Mapuche people).
Although Recoleta doesn’t come near this threshold (according to Jadue it has only 11% indigenous enrollment), the municipality states on its website that, due to the value it places on indigenous peoples, “the Department of Education decided to establish this as a subject.”
Jadue spoke with Chile Today and said that the goal is to create “an intercultural municipality and country,” in order to established a “reparation” in history.
Five years of work
It was only just now that the program was officially added to Recoleta’s curriculum, but the program actually started five years ago as courses in Mapudungun. Over time, however, the authorities were forced to scale the initiative, because, as Jadue, explained, the courses were so popular there was a “need” to expand the program, ultimately resulting in their official addition to the public school curriculum.
As detailed on Recoleta’s website, the plan will be applied progressively and will begin in Transición 2 (Kindergarten) and Primero Básico (First Grade) at 12 schools. Within two years, the program will be implemented in the other grade levels.
The program has already been presented in a meeting with the directors of the schools that will provide the classes, and the team that will work within this program has already been selected and introduced.
The classes will begin Apr. 8. They will be taught by Mapuche community members and people from the Araucanía region who have been working with the municipality for a long time.
International Year of Indigenous Languages
This announcement is part of the commemoration of what the United Nations has proclaimed is the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019).
The United Nations made this proclamation “in order to raise awareness” of indigenous languages, “not only to benefit the people who speak these languages, but also for others to appreciate the important contribution they make to our world’s rich cultural diversity.”
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the lead UN agency for IY2019, adds, “The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness of the critical risks these languages face and their value as vehicles of culture, knowledge systems and ways of life. Not least, indigenous languages play a crucial role in enabling their communities take their destiny in hand and participate in their countries’ economic, cultural and political life.”
IY2019’s global launch was Jan. 28, 2019, and will include various activities around the world throughout the year, including workshops like the one held Jan. 22 in Chile’s Temuco region, which talked about the documentation and revitalization of indigenous languages.
Here is a link to IY2019 events so you can see where and when the next events will take place.
Nelson Quiroz is Chile Today´s photographer. He also writes about youth culture and fashion, and often contributes with photo series during marches and protests.