Gatchalian seeks review of mother tongue policy in education

Published January 24, 2021, 3:30 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Senate to inquire into the implementation of the mother tongue policy in education, saying he believes this could also be linked to the poor school performance of students in the country.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian said it is imperative for the Senate to look into the implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE), which is mandated under the K-to-12 Law (Republic Act 10533), supposedly to address the poor school performance of learners where language plays a significant factor.

The Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture chairman said it is necessary to review the effectiveness of integrating the MTB-MLE in the Philippine basic education system as a medium of instruction since the start of its implementation in 2012.

The senator noted it is difficult to achieve academic development especially if there is a shortage of textbooks written in Filipino and the lack of teachers trained on using the mother tongue as a language of instruction.

“Children learn better and faster in a language that they can understand. This, in effect, boosts their self-esteem making them enjoy school more,” said Gatchalian in filing Senate Resolution No. 610.

“Even though there is good intention in establishing a mother tongue policy under the K-to-12 program, there are huge challenges in our capabilities and readiness to implement this,” he noted.

The lawmaker pointed to the dismal performance of the country’s students in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) “where some 94 percent of our participating 15-year old students speak a language at home most of the time other than the medium of instruction used in the assessment, which was English.”

He said this was the second highest percentage among all PISA-participating countries. The highest was observed in Lebanon, where 98 percent of students do not speak the language of instruction at home.

Under the K-to-12 program, instructions, teaching materials, and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of learners from Kindergarten and the first three years of elementary education.

The program also imposes the gradual introduction of Filipino and English as language of instruction through a language bridge program starting from Grades 4 to 6. On the secondary level, these two languages shall become the primary languages of instruction.

“Even though the quality of our education is largely dependent on this policy, we need to thoroughly study how we can resolve the loopholes in this program,” Gatchalian said.