Resolve gaps in mother tongue education policy, DepEd urged

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged on Monday, May 3, the Department of Education (DepEd) to also address issues on the implementation of the mother tongue-based education and other approaches under its K to 12 program.


Gatchalian issued the appeal after DepEd announced in late April that it will review and update the curriculum for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to address gaps in the curriculum and adapt to new approaches amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He particularly mentioned the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) and the agency's “spiral progression approach” mandated by the Republic Act No. 10533, or the K to 12 Law.

“Bagama’t maganda ang layunin ng mother tongue policy at spiral progression approach, maraming pagkukulang sa pagpapatupad ng mga ito (While the mother tongue policy and spiral progression approach have laudable intents, there are several gaps in their implementation)," Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate basic education committee, said in his statement.

Under the MTB-MLE program, instructions, teaching materials, and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of learners from Kindergarten to Grade 3. From Grade 4 to Grade 6, Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced through a language bridge program.

These two languages become the primary languages of instruction at the secondary level.

The spiral progression approach, meanwhile, allows the logical progression from simplistic to complicated ideas where learners revisit topics or subjects several times throughout their school career.

Gatchalian recalled a teachers' workshop that he and a non-government organization had conducted last year, wherein they evaluated the spiral progression approach and the MTB-MLE.

The senator said they learned that there were only a few teachers who were trained to teach all the branches or areas of a subject.

For instance, science teachers were only trained to teach in one area of expertise rather than the different branches of the subject such as Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.

As for the MTB-MLE, teachers complained about the inadequacy of learning materials and training on the use of the mother tongue and transitioning to the second language.

Gatchalian also cited a 2018 study by Philippine Normal University (PNU) showing that the spiral progression content is not concentrated and extensive, while requiring the need for competent and highly qualified teachers as well as sufficient facilities.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) revealed in 2019 that among the challenges of the MTB-MLE program are inadequate teacher and school preparation and dearth of textbooks and learning materials, he also noted.

"Sa ating pag-reporma sa curriculum, kailangan nating punan ang mga pagkukulang na ito upang matiyak nating nakatutulong ang mga polisiyang ito sa pagkatuto ng mga mag-aaral (In reforming the curriculum, we should address these gaps so we could ensure that these policies indeed help our students learn)," Gatchalian told the DepEd.