Students should be taught using the language that they best understand.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, in a statement issued Friday, July 1, said this in reaction to a part of the inaugural address of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. pushing for English as a medium of instruction in schools.
ACT Philippines Vladimer Quetua noted that while the metrics of international assessments like the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study are questionable, “language barrier is a basic reason why the Philippines lag behind and our students are at a disadvantage in these tests.”
Quetua pointed out that countries that 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.”
In the Philippines, Quetua said that the assessment is done in English as it is the main medium of instruction.
“This 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 explained. “In the classroom, they also cannot freely express themselves because English is not their vernacular,” he added.
Quetua added that dilemma also clips the learners’ ability for “critical thinking and in formulating arguments.”
While there is the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB MLE) Law and the Bilingual Education Policy, Quetua said that the “reality is that English remains to be the language predominantly used in our educational system” noting that subjects such as Mathematics at Science are taught in English.
Quetua pointed out that most, if not all, materials used in teaching are also in English while those that are written in local languages remain limited.
ACT urged the Marcos administration to strengthen the use of Filipino as a medium of instruction in schools to help students learn and understand the lessons better.
Filipino as a medium of instruction, the group said, should also be institutionalized and the efforts to strengthen it should also be given sufficient funding.
ACT also reacted to Marcos’ push to “rethink the education curriculum so that students will get better jobs” — noting that the focus should also be centered on national development.