To address challenges surrounding the implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE), Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a bill that seeks to redefine the application of the mother tongue’s use as a medium of instruction.
Under Senate Bill No. 2457, Gatchalian proposes that except for monolingual classes from Kindergarten to Grade 3, the delivery of basic education shall continue to use Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English. This is in accordance with the Section VII, Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution. Gatchalian’s proposal seeks the use of regional languages as auxiliary media of instruction, which he said is a flexible approach provided under the Constitution itself.
Gatchalian’s proposal provides, however, that the principles and framework of the MTB-MLE shall continue in monolingual classes, which refer to groups of learners who speak the same mother tongue and are enrolled in the same grade level. The use of the MTB-MLE was institutionalized under the Enhanced Basic Education of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10533) or the K to 12 Law.
The senator also pointed out that while the 2020 Census of Population and Housing shows that there are about 245 reported languages in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) officially covers only 19 languages in implementing MTB-MLE. Gatchalian also pointed out that some of the widely spoken languages such as Boholano, Masbateño, and Kankanaey are not covered by the 19 languages used by the DepEd.
The Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education recalled that during the four public hearings held on the implementation of the MTB-MLE, it was revealed that all studies presented on the use of the mother tongue were conducted in monolingual settings, making the Philippines an experiment on the use of mother tongue in a multilingual setting.
A 2019 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) revealed that only 9% of the surveyed schools complied with the 4-minima requirements for good implementation of the MTB-MLE: writing big books on language, literature and culture, documenting the orthography of the language, documenting the grammar of language; and writing a dictionary of the language.
Gatchalian further recalled how these results reflect the findings of class observations and focus group discussions he conducted in class observations and focus group discussions in Pangasinan, Cebu, Davao, and Muntinlupa City.