China underscores education, use of minority languages

  China's State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC) has urged the teaching and official use of minority languages in ethnic minority areas.

  Local ethnic affairs authorities must ensure "bilingual" education and must make more efforts to train teachers and write textbooks for minority language education, according to a notice on the SEAC website.

  The notice also urged the use of ethnic minority languages be protected in accordance with the law.

  Identity cards and other certificates for ethnic minority citizens in ethnic minority autonomous areas should be written in both standard Chinese and the citizens' own language, the notice said.

  The notice also called for measures to boost the use of minority languages in publications, broadcasting, film and on the Internet.

  Preservation of ethnic minority languages on the verge of extinction should be strengthened through the use of modern technology, the notice said.

  The notice said ethnic minority languages are not just a tool for communication among people of the same ethnic group but also a conveyor of culture.

  Over 60 percent of the population of China's 55 ethnic minority groups, or approximately 60 million people, regularly speak their own language, a white paper of the Information Office of the State Council published in 2009 said, adding that about 30 million of them regularly use their own script.

  There are 38 publishing houses in China specializing in the publication of minority language works, according to the white paper, adding that they publish in 26 minority languages.