July 25, 2009
Mother-based Multilingual Education in the Philippines
Lapus scraps bilingual education
By Gigi Muñoz David
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has signed Department of Education Order 74, nullifying the 35-year-old bilingual directive laid down in the 1970s on English and Filipino as the only languages of instruction. Neither of the languages is the first language of most Filipinos. Lapus said findings of various local initiatives and international studies in basic education have validated the superiority of the use of the learner’s mother tongue in improving learning outcomes and promoting Education For All.
He added the Order 74 institutionalizes the use of mother tongue as a fundamental educational policy and programme in the department in the whole stretch of formal education including preschool and in the Alternative Learning System. The policy widely referred to as mother tongue-based multilingual education aims to improve learning outcomes and promote Education For All.
Lapus cited findings from international and local research such as learners acquire reading skills more easily in their native than in their second language. Pupils who start to speak, read and write in their mother tongue learn a second language, like English, more quickly than those exclusively taught in a second language.
Learners develop cognitive, linguistic and academic competencies much faster in their native language than in a second language.
Under the new order, Filipino and English will be taught as separate subjects in the early grades and will be used as media of instruction when students are “ready.” This means when they have gained sufficient proficiency in the two second languages, as determined by the department, English and Filipino will remain the primary languages of teaching in high school, with the mother tongue as auxiliary and supplementary medium.
Lapus clarified that mother tongue-based multilingual education (MLE) will only be implemented at the level of the school, division and region after meeting certain conditions. These include the establishment of a working orthography or spelling system; the formation of a technical working group to oversee the program; the development, production and distribution of culturally-relevant but inexpensive mother tongue materials; in-service MLE training of teachers; the use of the mother tongue for testing; and maximum participation and support from the local government unit, parents and community under the concept of school-based management. The new policy also extends to the alternative learning systems and the madaris schools.
Philippine education stakeholders and linguistic experts have been clamoring for a change in the language-in-education policy. They have identified the disparity in the home and school languages as a major factor in the worsening functional literacy levels, high drop-out rates, and low learning outcomes among Filipino pupils.
Source: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk (posted 24 July 2009 from Manila Standard Today)
Jacinto, Bernadine Ruth DM