Villafuerte explains why he favors English as medium of instruction

Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte has opposed the proposal of a militant teachers’ group for the new administration to drop English in favor of Filipino as the medium of instruction, saying it would be a "recipe for disaster".

Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte (Facebook)

“Blunting our sought-after labor force’s competitive edge in the world’s lingua franca by using Filipino as the medium of instruction for our students is a recipe for disaster as we would be needlessly giving up one potent skill that has allowed our professionals and other workers to step into quality jobs here and abroad: the Filipino’s relative facility for the English language,” Villafuerte said in a statement.

“Why will we unjustifiably relinquish our ‘A’ game in English, so to speak, when this language is known as the world’s lingua franca because there are reportedly 350 million people across the globe who speak it as their first language and 500 million more who use it as their second language?” asked the solon, who is a former deputy speaker.

He noted that proficiency in English has opened a lot of opportunities for those looking for jobs as well as for workers trying to keep their current employment or get promoted since most corporations require from their employees and would-be hires a fair amount of skill in English.

“Hence, President Marcos is correct in looking at reteaching basic skills in our schools not only in Filipino but in English as well as part of his administration’s planned education reforms,” Villafuerte said.

The Bicolano was referring to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s emphasis in the latter's June 30 inaugural speech on reteaching the basic skills in "the national language, with equal emphasis and facility in a global language, which we had and lost".

He earlier lauded Marcos’s goal of coming up with “a comprehensive, all-inclusive plan for economic transformation”, which the President himself declared in his address.

But Villafuerte reckoned that “such a proposed blueprint to rev up the economy would be imperiled right from the start if we were to undermine our labor force’s comparative advantage in English proficiency here and abroad by making Filipino the medium of instruction in our schools".

"Keeping our labor force highly attractive for local and international employers is one means for the Marcos administration’s economic transformation to succeed as it would go a long way in, first, foreign investors to set up shop here, and, second, for international firms to keep hiring our workers and thereby boost the dollar remittances of migrant Filipinos," he said.

Villafuerte said the country’s competitive edge in English proficiency was confirmed by a media report, which indicated that the Philippines’ ranking has improved in the English Proficiency Index (EPI).

The EPI is an online Standard English Test conducted by the Switzerland-based EF Education First Ltd. that measures the average skill level in the English language of 112 economies.