22 Feb 2011

Chile wants Easter Island schools to teach in Rapa Nui language

2:52 pm on 22 February 2011

The Chilean government has announced plans to immerse Rapa Nui's school children in the island's indigenous language.

Promoting the Rapa Nui mother tongue is part of a package of measures revealed by ministers visiting the Chilean territory.

Sally Round reports.

"Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, has had months in the international spotlight because of a dispute over ancestral land, culminating in violent evictions by Chilean armed forces in December. In the last two weeks, the Rapa Nui people have been granted special protection by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. The government says all students from first to fourth grade are now to be mostly taught in the Polynesian language of Rapa Nui, rather than Spanish. The package also includes a scheme to charge tourists on arrival at Easter Island's airport for visits to Rapa Nui's national park, famous for its ancient moai statues. They'll be issued with a special bracelet to stop entry fee evasion and the government says it's committed to reinvesting the profits in the park. Chile also plans Improvements to the island's roads and a feasibility study for a new port."