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Regional Languages in Papua Preserved Through Customary Institutions

by Senaman
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PAPUA – In Papua, the involvement of customary institutions plays an important role in maintaining cultural values, one of which is local language, Chairman of the Sentani Customary Council Orgenes Kaway asked the Onfolo (Customary Leaders) in villages in East Sentani, Sentani and Waibu Districts to remind residents to maintain the noble values of the Sentani people, One of them is language in ceremonial events and involving various tribes can insert Sentani languages in the event and so that all can maintain sustainability by displaying Sentani culture in public, and not only applies to the Buyakha or Sentani customary areas, but other customary areas must also be able to display their regional language culture at official State and Customary events.

Strengthening local languages in Papua is also done through institutions that are integrated with formal schools such as the Papua State Customary School in Jayapura Regency, this school is a local cultural learning center that aims to preserve cultural wisdom in the local area. Head of the Papua State Customary School Orgenes Monim said that the institution he leads is a place to educate students about local Papuan culture. Training on strengthening the local language curriculum or ‘mother tongue’ was also conducted by the Papua State Customary School to 91 educators at all levels of education in Jayapura Regency last year. The mother tongue curriculum has also been implemented in schools in Sentani, Jayapura Regency since 2022 to date and 74 students of Abeale I Elementary School in Sentani, Jayapura Regency received diplomas from the Papua State Customary School in 2023.

Origenes Monim said the younger generation is now very less likely to use local languages as an introduction to daily communication, besides the development of faster and more sophisticated technology makes adult conversations in public places carried out using Indonesian rather than local languages. As many as 141 schools in Jayapura Regency have implemented the local language curriculum or ‘mother tongue’ to preserve the local language of the Sentani tribe.

Jayapura Regency has nine Tribal Customary Councils spread across 19 districts including:

  1. Buyakha Tribal Council (Sentani),
  2. Customary Council of Imbi Numbai Tribe,
  3. Oktim Tribal Customary Council,
  4. Tepra Tribal Customary Council,
  5. Customary Council of Djoukari Tribe,
  6. Elseng Tribal Council,
  7. Customary Council of Demutru Tribe,
  8. Customary Council of the Moi Tribe,
  9. Yowari Tribal Customary Council.

These nine Tribal Councils have their own local languages and need to be encouraged to continue to exist, and while in Jayapura City the local Education and Culture Office established a village school specifically for village children themselves as an effort by the Local Government to revitalize the mother tongue in each Indigenous Village.

Head of the Culture Division of the Jayapura City Education and Culture Office Grace Linda Yoku said the formation of village schools was based on Regional Regulation (Perda) Number 15 of 2022 concerning Regional Cultural Advancement of Jayapura City, the Perda is a derivative of Law Number 5 of 2017 concerning the promotion of culture and in the Perda will protect Art, Language, Traditional Dance, the way of life of indigenous peoples in Jayapura City and by forming Village Schools in 14 villages in Jayapura City with the aim of collaboration between the Education Office and the Village Government, in this case as a form of Government concern in maintaining local languages in the village and still preserved because in Jayapura City there are seven languages that are endangered because many language speakers have died.

People in Indigenous Villages at the age of 60 years and below have now become active listeners and passive speakers due to mixed marriages, even language speakers in each village are no more than five people, the seven mother tongues are,

  1. Kayo Batu Village Language,
  2. Kayo Pulo Village Language,
  3. Enggros and Tobati villages have one language,
  4. Skouw Sae, Skouw Yambe and Skouw Mabo have one language,
  5. Waena and Yoka villages have one language,
  6. Nafri and Koya Koso have one language,
  7. Vanimo (Papua New Guinea) village language in Mosso village.

The new village school will be run in 2025 because it is currently still in the socialization stage to 10 customary villages in Port Numbay.

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