Lawmaker Sulu Sou has written an interpellation to the local government asking for it to preserve the Cantonese language, listing it as intangible cultural heritage.
The lawmaker remarked that it is necessary for the Macau SAR government to take further measures to promote Cantonese because it is the native language of Macau.
According to the local government’s statistics, until the Macau handover, the number of people using Cantonese as their daily language had been increasing continuously. Conversely, after the handover, the number has declined.
In 2016, 80.1% of the city’s population used Cantonese as their first language, down 7.8 percentage points compared to 2001. Among people aged between the age of 3 and 19 at the time of the 2016 study, 87% of them used Cantonese as their first language, compared to 94.1% in 2001.
In 2017, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) declared that the department wanted to improve the coverage of Putonghua-instructed-Chinese subjects in local schools.
“Similar to Portuguese and English, encouraging the students to study Mandarin aims at increasing [students’] linguistic competitiveness. However, it is worth reiterating that [DSEJ] should not mix language study and Chinese study,” Sou said. He hopes local government will not replace Cantonese with Mandarin.
In Sou’s opinion, in recent years, pupils increasingly do not understand Cantonese due to the rise in immigration in concert with education policies.
Sou asked the government whether the authority will invest more resources in improving the qualifications of Cantonese teachers, increasing Cantonese courses, and protecting the career development rights of Cantonese teachers whose mother tongue is Cantonese, sparing no effort to safeguard the teaching of the language.
He also wants to know the exact percentage of schools currently teaching Chinese subjects in Cantonese, and the measures to combat the alleged rise in the number of students who do not understand Cantonese.
“Will the government study the inclusion of Cantonese in the list of intangible cultural heritage […] so that the precious local language can be preserved and promoted?” Sou asked.