Teachers’ group wants Filipino as medium for instruction

This June 30, 2022 file photo shows President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. delivering his inaugural speech at the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO

This June 30, 2022 file photo shows President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. delivering his inaugural speech at the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO

THE Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) proposed to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that students be taught in Filipino, not English, to better understand lessons.

The group was reacting to Marcos' statement during his inaugural address that there should be “equal emphasis and facility in global language which we had and lost.”

ACT chairman Vladimer Quetua said that countries that take the top tier in international assessments such as the Program for International Student Assessment and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study are those whose main medium of instruction is their national language.

“While the neoliberal metrics of international assessments like the Program for International Student Assessment and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study are questionable, [the] language barrier is a basic reason why the Philippines lags behind, and our students are at a disadvantage in these tests,” Quetua said.

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Retaining English as the main medium of instruction is “a big impediment to student learning because they have to master the English language first before they can learn science and math concepts,” he said.

Quetua added that learners find it difficult to express themselves in English because it is not their mother tongue, and it also weakens their ability in critical thinking and formulating arguments.

Despite the availability of mother tongue-based multilingual education and the bilingual education policy, the reality is English remains to be the language predominantly used in the country's education system, he said.

Quetua lamented the severe lack of support and efforts to have materials in the local language and national language.

“If we want to facilitate and accelerate the learning and comprehension of students, we can strengthen the use of local languages and our national language, Filipino, in education,” he said.

He also reacted to Marcos' suggestion to rethink the education curriculum so that students will get better jobs.

Quetua said education should not only be an avenue to land good jobs but for national development. Education should initiate finding solutions to societal problems through a deep understanding of the state of society, strong patriotic feelings, and appreciation of the foundations of democracy.

“Kasinghalaga rin ng Math at Science ang Araling Panlipunan, Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao, pag-aaral sa kultura at panitikan, at sa pambansang wika na siyang simbolo ng ating pambansang identidad (Math and Science are just as important as Social Studies, Humanities, the study of culture and literature, and the national language which is the symbol of our national identity),” he said.

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