House OK's bill suspending use of mother tongue in kindergarten to Grade 3

With 240 affirmative votes, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to suspend the implementation of mother tongue or first language as the medium of instruction for pupils in kindergarten to Grade 3.

(Erika Fletcher/ Unsplash)

Passed during plenary session Monday afternoon, Feb. 6 was House Bill (HB) No. 6717, which suspends the implementation of Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10533, otherwise known as the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013".

The bill underwent nominal voting and received three negative votes and two abstentions. The affirmative votes won out.

The solons' practical reason for pursuing the bill is the current lack of learning materials on mother tongue language in schools.

The measure provides fornp such suspension until the Department of Education (DepEd) certifies to Congress that it has completed its books, teaching materials, and supplies to effectively implement the use of mother tongue language in kindergarten to Grade 3.

The bill, however, provides that the Filipino Sign Language shall remain the medium of instruction for students with pertinent disabilities, and allows the continued implementation of the mother tongue in schools where it is assessed to be effective.

Under the current Sec. 4 of RA Enhanced Basic Education Act, mother language or first Language refers to language or languages first learned by a child, which he/she identifies with, is identified as a native language user of by others, which he/she knows best, or uses most.

This includes Filipino Sign language used by individuals with pertinent disabilities. The regional or native language refers to the traditional speech variety or variety of Filipino sign language existing in a region, area or place.

Section 2 of HB No.6717 mandates the DepEd to coordinate with the Komison sa Wikang Pilipino (KWF) in developing books, teaching materials and other supplies necessary in the implementation of the use of the mother tongue language.

The two agencies should also certify the appropriateness and capacity of all local school districts to use the mother tongue languages as mode of instruction in kindergarten to Grade 3, according to the bill.

The proposed legislation also provides for the automatic repeal of the measure upon the approval of Congress of the assessment report and the certification of DepEd to Congress on the readiness of all the schools districts to implement the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction for learners in kindergarten to Grade 3.

Reps. Roman Romulo (lone district, Pasig City), Mark Go (lone district, Baguio), Gus Tambunting (2nd district, Parañaque City), Ria Vergara (3rd district, Nueva Ecija), and House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe (2nd district, Zambonga City) introduced HB No.6717.

The Enhanced Basic Education Act also mandated that for kindergarten and the first three years of elementary education, instruction, teaching materials and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of the learners.

DepEd was tasked to formulate a mother language transition program from Grade 4 to Grade 6 so that Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced as languages of instruction until such time when these two languages can become the primary languages of instruction at the secondary level.