Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to listen to teachers amid ongoing efforts to review the implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE).
“Listen to our teachers, our supervisors, superintendents, and principals. They’re our soldiers on the ground. Makinig tayo sa kanila,” Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker cited his observations from the ground, which were generated from consultations with teachers in Pangasinan, Davao, Cebu, and Metro Manila. According to the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, the diversity of languages in many communities is posing complications in the implementation of mother tongue-based education.
While the MTB-MLE recognizes 19 languages as medium of instruction, the 2020 Philippine Statistics Authority’s Census of Population records as many as 245 languages used nationwide.
The lawmaker observed that some of the teachers who are not fluent in the mother tongue are asked to use it as the medium of instruction. He also cited teachers’ reports that Grade 4 learners have difficulty when they start learning Math and Science using English as the medium of instruction, four years after learning those subjects in their mother tongue.
Gatchalian added that in multilingual school settings, the MTB-MLE policy may discriminate against learners who do not speak the regional language chosen as the medium of instruction.
A 2019 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on the MTB-MLE earlier pointed out that schools tend to use regional languages that are not necessarily the same ones that learners use at home. The study added that surveyed schools assumed that learners have only one first language when learners, in fact, have several first languages.
The state think tank also pointed out that among the 16, 827 schools it surveyed, less than 10% are doing the four activities needed to implement the MTB-MLE: writing big books on language, literature, and culture; documentation of the orthography of the language; documentation of grammar; and documentation of a dictionary of the language.
“We have implemented the MTB-MLE since 2013, it’s about time that we come up with an assessment whether it’s effective or not, and how it affects learner outcomes,” Gatchalian concluded.