[lg policy] Saipan: Public School System receives $250K to improve language curriculum

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 29 16:02:54 UTC 2010

PSS receives $250K to improve language curriculum

By Moneth Deposa

Education officials and Board of Education members receive yesterday
from U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili Sablan the giant replica of the
$250,000 grant for the Public School System. The funding will be used
to complete the Chamorro dictionary and other needs of the system's
Chamorro Carolinian Language Heritage Studies program. (Moneth G.
Deposa) The CNMI Public School System received a $250,000 grant
yesterday so it could complete the Chamorro dictionary and to fund
other needs of the PSS Chamorro Carolinian Language Heritage Studies

U.S. Rep. Rep. Gregorio Sablan presented PSS officials with a giant
replica of the check during yesterday's Board of Education meeting on
Capital Hill. Sablan said PSS will use the funds for the publication
of the revised Chamorro-English dictionary, which has been stalled for
years due to funding woes.

“Part of educating our people is getting our language preserved, both
Chamorro and Carolinian. It is earmark money which I asked for this
particular purpose. The reason we gave it to PSS is because they are
very good in what they do.and they will help the agencies complete the
dictionary project,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune, adding that any
balance from the dictionary project will address other needs of the
language program such as instructional materials.

Sablan said his office is working on getting $2 million more for the
program. This is on top of the $8.3 million he is expecting to bring
in for teachers' education next fiscal year. “We are working also on a
big project and if we succeed, we will be OK with our educational
resources for the next 10 years,” said Sablan, who refused to
elaborate on the details of the new project. Recently, the CNMI
Chamorro Dictionary Revision Working Groups announced that they have
completed more than 90 percent of their initial revision of 9,900
entries in the Chamorro-English dictionary.

Funded by the National Science Foundation as a collaborative effort
between the University of California Santa Cruz and the NMI Humanities
Council, revisions are being conducted by community members and
volunteers on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, in partnership with agencies
and organizations and support of numerous individuals in the
community. Foundation funding for the project will end in 2011 and the
group will continue the work through volunteers and other support as
they may be available from the community.

'Only 15 percent of kids speak native languages’

There have been no new studies on the prevalence of indigenous
languages among Commonwealth children since the first survey and
assessment done by the Language Policy Commission in 2003. Based on
that last assessment, only 15 percent of students in public schools
speak the indigenous languages while the rest use English in and out
of their households. The agency described its finding as “very
alarming” and needs to be addressed to prevent the languages from
dying. As part of actions taken to address this, the commission and
PSS worked together on implementing and expanding the bilingual
program, later named the Chamorro Carolinian Language Heritage Studies

Offered in primary and middle schools, the program is recommended for
expansion to high schools. Besides funding, however, PSS is also
finding it difficult to hire instructors for the program.


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