Philippines Debate Use of Filipino as Instruction Medium Gloria E.

Melencio, Arab News MANILA, 20 August 2006 — Like restive Mayon Volcano, debate on whether the Filipino language is a failed language that should be replaced again by English is threatening to explode. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has categorically instructed the Department of Education (DepEd) to return to the use of English as the medium of instruction in the Philippine schools. This has stirred adverse reactions from academicians, linguists and nationalists lambasting it as a betrayal of Filipino nationhood. The president is alarmed with the continued decline of the English proficiency in schools that has said to have begun when the Filipino language was officially declared as the medium of teaching in 1989. “Filipinos’ fluency in the English language has fallen after it was scrapped,” Arroyo said. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has also begun providing free courses in English to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Said the OWA’s former administrator Wilhelm Soriano: “Although proficiency in the English language is not the only basis for the continuous high demand for OFWs, it remains as one of the assets and as such must be preserved.’” Alarmed at the population’s declining proficiency in English, the DepEd has restructured the curriculum this school year to give special emphasis and increased time for English. Private schools have readily obliged. They have been using the English language from way, way back anyway. But public schools have yet to comply. The question Filipino nationalists have to confront now is: Is Filipino a failed native language? Lack of Understanding Ten leading institutions and organizations of academicians and linguists that count the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippine Normal University, among others, have expressed dismay over the president’s directive to replace Filipino as primary medium of instruction. In a joint statement issued and circulated in the intellectual community, they said that the president misread the constitutional provision Article XIV, Section 6 explicitly directing “the Government ( to) take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.” Another pitfall cited is the president’s failure to understand the scientific and modern learning principles that prove that a child learns faster in the native tongue. These learning principles have been validated in experiments and studies even before the implementation of the bilingual policy in Philippine education. The Iloilo experiment in the 1960s showed that Filipino youths learn faster and better in their native language. The EDCOM Report (1998) said: “Test results showed that the highest scores were obtained by those who studied science in their own language...like the Japanese and Korean children.” Another point of contention is: Must English proficiency be the gauge of one’s intelligence? Deputy Majority Leader Eduardo Gullas, a lawmaker from Cebu, contends that Filipino children failed in the recent math and science tests given by DepEd because they have poor English. He further explains: “To begin with, math and science manuals and most other books for that matter are in English, so learning becomes extremely difficult if the student has deficient English.” Had Gullas spent some time to go over the results of the Third International math and science Survey (TIMMS), he could have advised the president that English proficiency is not the gate pass to a true-blue intellectual activity that is asked of the rigors of math and science. Math and Sciences TIMMS, a prestigious group of researchers and academicians coming from all parts of the world, found out that the United States, an English speaking country no doubt, miserably placed 17th in science and 28th in mathematics!

the countries whose people are not English speakers and who use their native tongues as medium of instruction are in the top rung. land? At the tail-end. the Department of Education [DepEd]. the statement said. Austria and Belgium. A country’s budget on education and the length of time spent inside the classroom are also not measures in teaching well. EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. English. These are Singapore. Czech Republic. said to be the best English speakers in Asia. PNU and other pro-Filipino language institutional advocates contend. 2003 ESTABLISHING THE POLICY TO STRENGTHEN THE USE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AS A MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION IN THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM WHEREAS. 210 May 17. particularly in the area of Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. strengthening the use of the English language as a medium of instruction also depends on the improvement of the entire educational system. the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and. particularly in the training of educators and the provision of learning materials and resources. USA and Great Britain have small number of students per class but got low ranks than Singapore and Hong Kong that have the highest number of students in class in the whole of Asia. We suggest that we invest in the training and the retraining of our teachers. The study found that the Czech Republic and Korea allot a small budget for educating their children but placed considerably higher than Germany and Great Britain who are big spenders. science or English should also be upgraded. Our normal schools should get a bigger budget to invigorate the teaching profession. The quality of teachers teaching math. WHEREAS. the Commission on Higher Education [CHED] and the .” the joint statement further explains. The educators called on the government to look into the teachers’ meager salary. We should earnestly develop and produce textbooks written in Filipino to support this proposed national language program. UP. And where did the Filipino students. Hungary. Ateneo. where else? Another thing that TIMMS expounds on is the amount of time and money spent on teaching math and science. Section 7. Japan. there is a need to develop the aptitude. Hong Kong and China are currently implementing this effectively. WHEREAS. Countries such as France. thereby making jobs such as domestic helpers and chambermaids a come-on to them. Netherlands. Bulgaria. Low government support discourages teachers and lowers their morale. South Korea. WHEREAS. “Such a system that emphasizes the role of the first language will produce students who are literate in Filipino and very ready to learn English and in English. WHEREAS. The number of students per class does not also matter in getting high marks. Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution provides that for purposes of communication and instruction. until otherwise provided by law. In the Philippines.Surprisingly. Teachers teaching Filipino children were also urged to continuously update themselves and make the teaching profession as exciting. a recommendation to use Filipino as the sole medium of instruction in the primary level of education is under way. it is a declared policy of the State to promote education as a means to achieve and maintain an accelerating rate of economic development and social progress. We laud the administration’s commitment to build more schools but a parallel support should be infused into the raising of the quality of education. TIMSS proves. competence and proficiency of our students in the English language to maintain and improve their competitive edge in emerging and fast-growing local and international industries.

It is the objective of the foregoing policies to develop the aptitude. competence and proficiency of students in the English language. . Proficiency of Teachers. the percentage of time allotment for learning areas conducted in the English language is expected to be not less than seventy percent (70%) of the total time allotment for all learning areas in the secondary level. English shall be taught as a second language.Pursuant to the Constitutionally-mandated policy of the Government to ensure and promote the evolution. As the primary medium of instruction. SECTION 9. SECTION 4. President of the Republic of the Philippines. as well as through the educational institutions in the private sector. SECTION 2. the TESDA. Declaration of Policies. As provided for in the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum. are hereby encouraged to adopt the use of the English language as the primary medium of instruction in the tertiary level. SECTION 8. competence and proficiency of all students in the use of the English language to make them better prepared for the job opportunities emerging in the new.Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed as limiting the academic freedom of institutions of higher education. SECTION 7. the CHED.The DepEd. the DepEd. including those established as laboratory and/or experimental schools.The implementing authorities specified in Section 5 hereof shall undertake to secure the funding support necessary to provide adequate learning materials and resources that will develop the aptitude. Implementing Rules and Regulations. SECTION 10. GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO. including those established as laboratory and/or experimental schools. English shall be used as the medium of instruction for English. . SECTION 5. SECTION 3. by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and existing laws.The DepEd. . the CHED and the TESDA shall submit to the President a plan of action to effectively implement the provisions of this Executive Order. Institutions of Higher Education. do hereby order: SECTION 1.Institutions of higher education. starting with the First Grade. The CHED shall adopt measures to promote and encourage the use of the English language as the primary medium of instruction in the tertiary or higher education level. and non-formal and vocational or technical educational institutions. . Support Mechanisms. through the National Educators' Academy of the Philippines [NEAP]. NOW.The DepEd and the TESDA are hereby directed to take active steps to ensure the implementation of this Executive Order and monitor compliance therewith in all public and private institutions of learning in the elementary and secondary levels.Within thirty (30) days from the issuance of this Executive Order. . shall evaluate the proficiency of educators in the English language and conduct training programs nationwide to develop and improve it. including State Colleges and Universities [SUCs]. Guarantee of Academic Freedom. c. . Repealing Clause. and non-formal and vocational or technical educational institutions. The English language shall be used as the primary medium of instruction in all public and private institutions of learning in the secondary level. Mathematics and Science from at least the Third Grade level. I. . THEREFORE. SECTION 6.Technical Education and Skills Development Authority [TESDA] fully support the policies sought to be established herein and have favorably endorsed the issuance of this Executive Order.The following policies are hereby established: a. development and further enrichment of Filipino as the national language of the Philippines. Implementing Authorities. . .All executive issuances. They shall also collaborate in developing an evaluation instrument that will make it possible to monitor the progress of educators and students in achieving the policy objectives established herein. technology-driven sectors of the economy. the Educational Development Project Implementing Task Force [EDPITAF]. the CHED and the TESDA are hereby authorized to issue the appropriate rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the policies established herein. . b. the Filipino language /shall continue to be the medium of instruction in the learning areas of Filipino and Araling Panlipunan. rules and regulations or parts thereof which . Report to the President. Use of the Filipino Language.

I also didn?t know much about the state of education in the Philippines. 2006. in the end. 210. . the push for the use of English in our classrooms will only lead to further deterioration of what?s already been described as a rather inferior quality of education. SECTION 11. But couldn?t we perhaps just be a bit more liberal with our views? Shouldn?t teachers be allowed to use the most effective communication tools that will allow them to articulate their lesson plans best? Wouldn?t that. I know that it was due in part to my English proficiency that I didn?t have as much difficulty in trying to find a job as the rest of my 'international' friends. Filipino. According to those who filed the petition. I really benefited a lot from learning English in my grade school and high school years. “Establishing the Policy to Strengthen the Use of English Language as a Medium of Instruction in the Educational System. and vocational and technical institutions. I didn?t have to enroll in ESL classes which could have delayed my program for another year. I would have been right on the side of government. MAY 17. . I?ve learned quite a bit about the ?ills? of our public education system. 2003 (Sgd. since I returned.This Executive Order shall take effect immediately upon approval. physical education and health.” Secretary Lapus added. I didn?t get lost around town as much and I was able to meet and make friends easily because there was no language barrier. including those established as laboratory and experimental schools. s. music. it seems like our public education system is just not set up for this yet. Those who support the 2003 Executive Order filed by President Arroyo on the other hand argue that doing away with English as the medium of instruction will inevitably hurt the country and our people more because they believe that a less competitive workforce will emerge. So.) GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO By the President: (Sgd. Effectivity. Such a training can best be done in a classroom. I find myself a bit torn with this issue. A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the government?s policy of using English as the medium of instruction in our schools.” and to further intensify the program. I guess this is why I find myself torn. But if we look at things realistically. English as the medium of instruction The English vs. The guidelines were formulated for the effective implementation of the provisions of EO 210 and to reiterate the increased time allotment in the use of English for classroom instruction. 36. Fortunately. English should be used as the medium of instruction for English. I recognize that learning to speak and write in English in this age of globalization is necessary especially if we would like to be able to compete in the knowledge-based world. Having had the opportunity to travel and study abroad. mathematics. He stressed that as provided in the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum. Filipino debate is once again a hot topic. And so I just can?t help but wonder? should we really impose a certain language as the primary medium of instruction? I understand that standards are needed and must be met. I fully recognize the value of being able to speak and write fluently in English. araling panlipunan and edukasyon sa pagpapahalaga shall be taught in Filipino. City of Manila. The education chief prescribed that English shall be taught as a second language starting in grade one.are inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby repealed. But then three months ago. help their students to grasp the material better and truly learn? Lapus orders the use of English as a medium of instruction In support of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s issuance of Executive Order No. technology and livelihood education. and science and health starting in grade three. Education Secretary Jesli Lapus issued its implementing rules and regulations through DepED Order No. amended or modified accordingly. and Citizenship Advancement Training (CAT) shall also be taught in English. The English language shall be used as the primary medium of instruction in all public and private schools in the secondary level. ROMULO Executive Secretary Filipino vs. 3 months ago.) ALBERTO G. In the secondary level. arts.

“As the primary medium of instruction.” he added. the percentage of time allotment for learning areas conducted in the English language should not be less than seventy percent of the total time allotment for all learning areas in all year levels. .

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