The Yucatán state Congress has approved a law that will make Mayan language instruction a requirement in primary and secondary schools.
The law was passed unanimously with the intention of rescuing and preserving the region’s native tongue.
State Deputy Paulina Viana Gómez cited numbers from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) that reveal that Yucatán has the most indigenous language speakers of any state in Mexico — more than 570,000, most of whom speak Mayan.
“Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the percentage of people that speak Mayan in the state has been decreasing constantly and drastically in recent years,” Inegi warned.
The institute explained that it was due to a lack of interest in creating public policies to rescue and strengthen the mother tongue.
The law will enter into force as soon as it is published in the state’s official record, but will not be implemented immediately. It will be applied gradually by the Yucatán Education Secretariat.
One reason for going slowly might be a shortage of teachers. Education authorities said in September there was a shortage of bilingual — Spanish and Mayan — teachers.
The state said it would attempt to remedy the situation by introducing a “seed group” of 20 primary-level bilingual teachers who would pass their skills on to at least another 40 teachers in a process that would fan out and prepare more teachers to help meet Mayan instruction goals.
Source: Milenio (sp)