MANILA – A group of teachers urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to make Filipino the medium of instruction in schools throughout the country.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) made the statement Friday after Marcos said in his inaugural address, “What we teach in our schools, the materials used, must be rethought. I am not talking about history. I'm talking about the basics, the sciences, sharpening theoretical aptitude and imparting vocational skills such as in the German example, alongside the National Language, with equal emphasis and facility in a global language, which we had and lost.”
ACT said Filipino students are lagging behind in international educational assessments because of a language barrier.
“Countries who usually take the top tier of these assessments are those whose main medium of instruction is their national language, that is why learning is well facilitated. And they perform better in the tests which were conducted in their own languages," said the group’s chairperson Vladimer Quetua.
Speaking with TeleRadyo on Monday, ACT Secretary-General Raymond Basilio said classroom discussions are more lively when conducted in the local language.
“Ang example na lang natin dyan ‘no, sa isang classroom, o kahit sa mga seminars natin: 'Pag salitang, wikang banyaga yung ginagamit natin, hindi nagpa-participate yung ating mga audience. Pero kapag sariling wika 'yung ating gamit ay nakikita natin yung napaka-lively na participation ng ating mga participants.”
“Kaya talagang mainam ay pagyamanin gamitin yung ating sariling wika,” he said.
(One example we can see is how in the classroom, and even in seminars, people don't usually participate when we use a foreign language. But when we use our native language, the participants are very lively. That's why we need to use our own language.)
For his part, Tanggol Wika convenor Dr. David Michael San Juan said the government must improve the delivery of the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBME) system.
‘Nag-a-agree tayo na tamang policy yung MTBMLE. Medyo kinulang lang sa resources. 'Tsaka dapat ayusin ‘no, pataasin yung suweldo ng teachers. Bigyan ng sapat na funding ang ating public education system para lahat ng kailangan ay mai-supply.”
“So yun ang isang basic problem. Sa instructional materials din, may instructional materials na ang nangyari, medyo literal ang translation. O malalim na lengguwahe yung nagamit, very academic na, hindi akma sa kaya ng estudyante,” he said.
(We agree that MTBMLE is the correct policy direction we have to take. But we lack resources. We need to increase teachers' salaries and pour more funds into the public education system so all needs can be met. That's one basic problem. As for the instructional materials, there are also problems because in some of them, translations were made literally. In some cases, the concepts were too academic, beyond the grasp of the students.)
“Dapat magsimula sa kung ano yung alam na wika ng mga estudyante. And I think we can learn ‘no from Indonesia and Malaysia na kailangan, yung mga terms na hindi kailangan i-translate, wag i-translate.”
“Mag-focus tayo doon sa paano ipapaliwanag ang konsepto, paano maipapaunawa sa mga estudyante,” he stressed.
(We should start from the language that students know. And we can learn from Indonesia and Malaysia that not all terms need to be translated. We should focus on explaining concepts to students.)
In 2021, a report from the World Bank stated that around 80 percent of Filipino students fall below the minimum level of proficiency for their grade levels.
The Philippines ranked last in reading, and second to last in science and mathematics, among 79 countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment.
--TeleRadyo, 4 July 2022