MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) is calling on experts to submit their proposals in a bid to "strengthen" the agency's basic education learning continuity plan (BE-LCP) to address the country's quality of education.
DepEd said its policy research and development division has opened to submissions of research proposals "to reinforce the link of research to education processes through utilization, dissemination, and advocacies."
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, meanwhile, said the research proposals "will help DepEd address pressing issues that we are encountering, especially in relation to the delivery of quality education."
"The chosen proposal will be given a grant of up to P500,000, which will be distributed in 3 tranches, under the Basic Education Research Fund (BERF). The initiative aims to improve the policies, programs, and activities relevant to the implementation of the BE-LCP," the statement read.
"To be eligible for the grant, applicants, whether teaching or non-teaching personnel, should hold a regular job position in the Department, should not have any pending administrative cases, and should not have yet availed the grant for the current year. Each team can only have a maximum of 3 members."
The research proposals, DepEd said, should carry the theme: "Supporting and Assessing Learning Continuity and Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education Materials and Development."
READING, MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION
In a forum on Aug. 13, Briones emphasized the need to teach children to read.
This year's Brigada Eskwela will also focus on the importance of reading, she said.
"If it is possible to say 150 or 200 percent agree with the formula of reading, reading, reading," according to Briones.
"Brigada Eskwela, as all of us know, is generally associated with the cleaning up schools. We still clean up the schools in preparation for opening the school calendar. But this time, our Brigada Eskwela will be focusing more on reading," she explained.
However, concerns have been raised by some education advocates that children are having a hard time shifting to Filipino or English from their mother tongue.
Under the mother tongue-based multilingual education of the K to 12 Law, learning materials for students from Kinder to Grade 3 should be in their native or regional language.
Filipino and English are gradually introduced once students enter Grades 4 to 6.
This as studies have shown that students learn other languages better if they are first taught in their mother tongue.
In a virtual presser Thursday, Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said his agency is "always willing to explore" the best way to implement the mother tongue-based multilingual education curriculum.
"I know and I recognize that the transition to the second and third languages is something that has to be done better. And while we have evidence to indicate that the mother tongue based-multilingual education, if implemented authentically, actually produces good results in terms of even the transition to the other languages, the evidence is not yet absolute," he said.
He added the agency is "mandated to [implement the curriculum] so we'll have to do it but we can be very flexible as well."
The education official also called on experts and stakeholders to share their insights on the use of the mother tongue for early instruction: "Upon which we can, perhaps, design appropriate adjustments in the policy that we are implementing now."
"So this is really a very valid point. We've been able to organize external meetings with the experts and other advocates but we're organizing one among ourselves in DepEd, very soon, to actually also come up with the necessary adjustments that we have to take," San Antonio said.
Leila Areola, director of the Bureau of Learning Delivery, said a number of programs are being done to improve reading skills, including those targeted on K-to-3 learners, while also capacitating teachers on effective learning delivery, and those focused on Grade 1 to Senior High School students to develop literacy.
Meanwhile, the agency's "Hamon: Bawat Bata Bumabasa" campaign provides schools the opportunity to implement their own reading programs.
Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan also recognized the importance of reading proficiency and language of instruction.
"It comes out in many aspects, including with the results of the PISA, with respect to the language of instruction, language of testing, and the language spoken at home," said Malaluan.
"We also need to take into consideration, for example, changes in the language landscape, for example, in mass media and other things and other factors," he added.
The official said there is an "ongoing internal discussion" with DepEd. but broader discussions and "deep studies" should also be done to tackle the matter.
This, he said, is a "contentious aspect of education reform."
"The department has met a very serious operational challenges of the mother tongue-based (MTB-MLE). I think part of that is the linguistic terrain that we have in the country accross our geographic areas. But the operational aspect, might also have to consider the policy aspect itself," Malaluan said.
"In our last discussion, the secretary, for example, has noted that the language of instruction issue, and I also made such an observation, is not simply a matter of language and learning but also there is a lot of history and economic context to the choice of language of instruction."