Writers, educators ask SC to stop EO on English MANILA, Philippines -- Prominent writers and educators have asked the Supreme

Court to block the implementation of Executive Order No. 210 issued by President Gloria MacapagalArroyo which requires, among other things, the use of English as the medium of instruction in the public schools.

The petitioners said the use of English had caused the deterioration of the education system in the country and put the poorer students at a disadvantage. It also, ironically, has hampered the students' ability to learn English as well as alienated them from their cultural heritage. They said using Filipino or the regional languages to teach the students would help them learn better, as shown by studies. The petitioners included writer Isagani R. Cruz, who heads Wika ng Kultura at Agham Inc. which is composed of writers, educators and cultural workers; National Artists for Literature Virgilio Almario and Bienvenido Lumbera; Romulo Baquiran Jr. of the Filipinas Institute of Translation Inc.; Aurora Batnag and Efren Abueg of the Samahan ng Mga Salin Inc.; Beverly Siy of the Linangan sa Retorika at Arte; Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist and professor Randolf David, and writers and professors Nicanor Tiongson, Rosario Torres-Yu, Jovy Peregrino, Vina Paz, Abdon Balde, Theresa de Villa, Fanny Garcia, Juan Gatbonton and Galileo Zafra. Minor schoolchildren, represented by their fathers Roberto Añonuevo, Michael Coroza and Victor Nadera, were among the petitioners. Named respondents were President Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus. The petitioners asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on the implementation of EO 210 and Department of Education Order No. 36 which enforced the EO, and to declare the two orders null and void after a hearing. EO 210 mandates that English be made the primary medium of instruction in all public high schools and should be taught as a second language at all levels. The petitioners said the EO and DepEd order violated the Constitution, which states that the government should "sustain the use of Filipino as the medium of official communication and as the language of instruction in the educational system." The Constitution also states that the regional languages should be the auxiliary media of instruction. "The failure of respondents to implement Filipino and the regional languages as the primary media of instruction has led to serious difficulties in learning among schoolchildren in elementary and high school, including herein petitioner minors, which has led to ineffective communication in the classrooms, low academic achievement and a high dropout rate," the petitioners said. They said using English to teach most subjects in elementary school resulted in children from the lower socioeconomic classes ending up as "functional illiterates."

"The harmful effects of using a foreign language for learning are not just limited to low academic achievement and cognitive growth, it impairs the emotional security and sense of self-worth and the ability to participate meaningfully in the educational process by lower-class children who develop an inferiority complex as they are stigmatized by their use of the native tongue," they said. The petitioners said government and institutional studies had shown that elementary schoolchildren could not learn how to read and write in English, and that the use of Filipino would enable them to learn to read and write since it is easy for them to understand. "Studies have shown that this change will make students stay in school longer, learn better, quicker and more permanently, and will in fact be able to use the first language as a bridge to more effective learning in English and Filipino," they said. The petition was filed at the Supreme Court Wednesday last week by Cruz, Almario, Baquiran and congressional candidate and Ateneo de Manila University professor Danton Remoto. Cruz and Almario stressed the petitioners were not against English per se, since most of them wrote in the language, but for the improvement of the educational system.

Source: http://asianjournal.com/?c=186&a=20011

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