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Stone house classroom built to further indigenous culture

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The construction of a stone house kindergarten classroom adorned with indigenous tribal elements was completed yesterday, with the purpose of instilling Paiwanese tribal culture in the minds of youth and preserving it for posterity.

Located in Pingtung County, Tai-wu Elementary School-affiliated kindergarten is the country's first kindergarten that utilizes the native tribal language as the only language of instruction. The construction of the preschool's stone house classroom was completed yesterday.

Tai-wu Elementary School was relocated to Pingtung County after a major flooding destroyed the original school building.

In order to pass on the traditional Paiwan tribe's culture to future generations, the school installed totems in the school, and designed a curriculum with the goal of becoming an international tribal elementary school.

There are three stone house classrooms in the kindergarten — the Sun room, the Chinese Moccasin room, and the Clay Pot room — each named after a symbol closely connected to the Paiwan heritage. The rooms feature such tradition touches as a floor covered with a Paiwanese straw mat, with the objective of fully immersing the youth in the culture.

The tribe's elders will offer students classes on the indigenous language and Paiwanese culture two days a week. Since 2012, there have been 53 children enrolled at the kindergarten, which is the school's maximum capacity.

The school's principal said the goal is to turn Tai-wu Elementary School into Taiwan's first international tribal school. The school is designing textbooks focused on Paiwanese traditional culture, while also connecting students to the international community.

In addition to the newly built rooms, there are two other stone houses: a shop in the elementary school, and another used for the elders' ceremonies.

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