MANILA - The House of Representatives is set to probe the removal of mandatory Filipino subjects in the General Education Curriculum (GEC) of tertiary schools, once the regular session of the 16th Congress begins after the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Following a resolution filed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon Tuesday, the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education is set to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the controversial Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum Order No. 20, which effectively removed Filipino subjects in the tertiary GEC.
In House Resolution No. 1249, Ridon said Congress must evaluate the possible effects of the CHED Memorandum Order to students and teachers.
"Nakababahala ang panukala ng CHED na tanggalin ang mandatoryong pag-aaral ng ating pambansang wika. Habang pinapaliwanag ng komisyon na ang naturang asignatura ay ituturo na sa ilalim ng programang K-12, nananatili ang pangangailangang higit pang aralin ang wikang Filipino sa mas mataas na antas," Ridon said.
CHED Memorandum Order No. 20 prescribes a new 36-unit GEC for college students that would take effect as early as academic year 2016-2017.
Under the said curriculum, the number of GEC units has been reduced from the current 63 units (for humanities and social science majors) or 51 units (for science, engineering and math majors) to 36 units for all students.
As part of the reduction of the required number of units in the GEC, the current mandatory units for Filipino subjects have been excised from the curriculum.
CHED explained that under the Senior High School Curriculum in the K-12 program, students are already required to take Filipino subjects for a total of 108 hours in Grade 11.
"The proposed GEC strips away remedial courses, those that duplicate subjects in Grades 11 and 12, and introductory courses to the disciplines," CHED explained in CMO 20-2013.
Apart from Filipino subjects, CHED also removed subjects in English, Math, and introductory courses such as General Psychology and Basic Economics.
The removal of Filipino subjects in the GEC was met with opposition from many stakeholders, including linguists, academics, and students.
In a resolution unanimously signed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts' National Committee on Language and Translation (NCCA-NCLT) last May 23, 2014, various members of the academe and luminaries including National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario called on CHED to revise the proposed new GEC and include nine mandatory units of Filipino for all courses at the tertiary level.
In the said NCCA-NCLT resolution, the signatories said that many Filipino departments in colleges and universities throughout the country would be dissolved due to CMO 20-2013. The NCCA-NCLT further estimated that around 10,000 full-time and 20,000 part-time teachers would be laid off due to the removal of required Filipino subjects.
In a statement issued yesterday, CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan clarified that under CMO 20-2013, it is explicitly stated that the courses under the GEC may be taught in either English or Filipino.
However, Ridon is unimpressed.
"Teaching the GEC curriculum in the Filipino language is not tantamount to teaching tertiary-level Filipino courses," Ridon said in HR 1249.
"Congress will also study the possibility of legislating a law that would require at least nine units of Filipino courses for all college students, as prescribed by experts in this field," Ridon disclosed.