Why GMA’s language policy should be reversed (Part 1

By the Coalition for a Correct Language Policy OUR coalition of educators, writers and students has petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the Department of Education from continuing to carry out Executive Order 210. That EO strengthens the use of English in the school system at the expense of Filipino and other Philippine languages. We are asking the Court to order the administration to desist from carrying out EO 210 and any of its implementing regulations, principally DepEd Order 36 S 2006. We also ask the Court to declare EO 210 and DepEd Order 36 null and void because these violate the Constitution. The educators seeking EO 210 to be repealed include Dr. Patricia Licuanan, President of Miriam College; National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera and Virgilio Almario; University of the Philippines sociologist Randolf David; President of WIKA Inc., Isagani R. Cruz; and Efren Abueg, writer-in-residence at De La Salle University. Atty. Pacifico A. Agabin, former dean of the UP College of Law, is our legal counsel. EO 210 and DepEd Order 36 Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution, which declares Filipino the national language and mandates the government “to initiate and sustain [its] use … as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.” EO 210 and Department f Education Order 36 violate the Constitution. The implementation of EO 210 would emaciate this constitutional provision propagating the use of Filipino. An important Congressional study in 1991 refutes both EO 210 and a House bill with a similar intent, written by Rep. Eduardo Gullas of the First District of Cebu. HB 4701 on “Strengthening and Enhancing the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction in Philippine Schools,” certified as urgent by President Arroyo, passed the House but was not acted on by the Senate in the Thirteenth Congress. The Gullas bill goes against the findings of the Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) in 1991.

The commission—made up of ten senators and congressmen, and chaired by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara—recommended specifically that Congress make the vernacular and Filipino the medium of instruction for basic education. The EDCOM report was written only after 11 months of serious study. It became the basis for reform laws that restructured the Department of Education and created a separate Commission (CHED) to supervise higher education. EDCOM also ordered the DepEd to develop instructional materials in Filipino. EDCOM envisioned that all subjects in elementary and high-school education—except English and other languages—would be taught in Filipino by the year 2000. Pupils taught in mother tongue learn faster Dr. Licuanan, a psychologist, has found that since students learn more and faster when taught in their mother tongue, the emphasis on English in basic education “will actually have a damaging effect on Filipino student learning.” She says the “English-first” policy will further disadvantage the Filipino poor who drop out of school at elementary and secondary-school level. According to DepEd’s statistics, of every 10 pupils who enter Grade 1, only 5 finish Grade 6. Only 2 students go on to high school but only 1 make it through to college. In most provinces, net enrollment rates continue to decline, because of economic hardship. Negros Oriental has begun to provide school lunches for some 135,000 pupils in its 527 public elementary schools—in an effort to keep these children in their classes. Dr. Licuanan warns that early dropouts revert to illiteracy. In 1989, functional illiterates made up 16.8 percent of the Philippine population aged 10 years and above. These high dropout rates make an effective way of teaching at elementary level imperative. The very limited time that so many Filipino children spend in school must be put to the best use. English-first policy will hurt learning

Former Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz has associated himself with our (the petitioners’) complaint. He points out that the emphasis on English is “misleading and dangerous” because it will force both the young learners and their teachers to concentrate on the language and not on Science and Math and literacy, which are more basic to learning. Luz cites Unesco’s studies which show that young children learn how to read and to do sums faster and better when taught in their home-language. These international findings were validated at the national level by research in Bukidnon province. There, the Summer Institute of Linguistics teaches indigenous people in their mother tongue. The Bukidnon pupils score relatively high in literacy and numeracy tests given by the Department of Education.

retrieved from: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/apr/28/yehey/opinion/20070428opi6.html

Why GMA’s language policy should be reversed (Part 2)
By the Coalition for a Correct Language Policy (Continued from Saturday April 27, 2007) Research by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in 1998 also showed that the use of the mother tongue in the first years of school provides the necessary “bridge” for a child to learn a second language. The WB-ADB study verified that children are less likely to drop out of school when classes are conducted in the home language. Pupils are active, not passive, in class recitation—and conceptualization, especially in mathematics, begins almost from the first day of school. Policy geared to train call-center operators In recent years, education authorities have expressed alarm at the decline of English proficiency. President Arroyo was reportedly surprised to hear of job vacancies in

foreign-owned call centers, because applicants fail in their English-language tests. Business leaders initially welcomed EO 210 as an effort to stem the decline. “But we can’t make the training of call-center operators the aim of our education system,” says Lumbera, who also won the Magsaysay Award in (year). David, the UP sociologist, says English as medium of instruction will widen even more the cultural gap between the rich and the poor in this country. “When the language of the law is a foreign language,” David notes, “users of the local language are immediately placed at a disadvantage. This is why our judiciary is taking steps to sustain and propagate the use of Filipino.” The Supreme Court itself has set up an office charged with translating landmark decisions in Filipino. Education’s budget share has been falling since 1997 The educators say the deterioration of English proficiency is part of the decline of the entire education system—set off by declining budgets for basic education. Education’s share of the Budget has been falling continuously since the financial crisis of 1997, according to the Ateneo economist Cielito F. Habito. The Arroyo Government has sought to reduce its fiscal deficit by cutting down on social services, but—as Finance Secretary Margarito Teves concedes—”this is not the ideal way of balancing the Budget.” General decline of education system is the problem “The problem we’re facing is not simply the deterioration of English,” says Dr. Licuanan. “It’s also the deterioration of Math and Science, and it is this general decline that undermines the competitiveness of the Filipino and the Philippines. The Philippines devotes to public education barely a third of the money that neighboring states do, proportionate to their gross domestic products. “We’re not against the English language, which has become the predominant global language,” says UP Dean Almario. “Indeed we want all our people to learn more English than the minimum they learn at present—which equips them only to become

‘domestic helpers’ and ‘caregivers’ to more fortunate peoples.” “But for internal interaction and processes, there is no substitute for the mother tongue. And Filipino has become the true lingua franca of the Philippines.” Using a foreign language always stumbling block to learning Dr. Licuanan says that, because learning is primarily mediated by language, using a foreign language will always be a hindrance to learning. There was a time when English use was widespread in this country, when media were predominantly English, and many families even spoke English at home. Children then also spent more years in school. That colonial social environment enabled Filipinos of that earlier generation to develop English proficiency and even expanded their intellectual horizons. But those days are gone; and with them the support and reinforcement for the English language. Now we’re on our own—and, in language as in everything else, we must choose what is best for all of us. Teach all subjects well—including English as a foreign language What is best is to teach all subjects well—in the children’s mother tongues. And teach English well—as a foreign language. This means having good teachers and supplying them and the pupils with correct educational materials in Filipino and in the other Philippine languages. There should also be excellent teachers of English and proper materials for English as a foreign language or even as a second language

retrieved from: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2007/apr/29/yehey/opinion/20070429opi5.html

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