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Senate review of ‘mother tongue’ policy needed to improve quality of education in PH

Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on the implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE), which is mandated by the K to 12 Law (Republic Act 10533), to address the poor school performance of learners where language plays a significant factor.


TUBO, ABRA, Philippines – Children of the Maeng indigenous people participate in an outreach program in their remote Cordilleran community, some 400 km north of Manila, 29 Dec 2018 file. Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chairman Senator Win Gatchalian said “that children learn better and faster in a language that they can understand. This, in effect, boosts their self-esteem making them enjoy school more.” Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

In filing Senate Resolution No. 610, Gatchalian seeks to determine the effectiveness of integrating the MTB-MLE in the Philippine basic education system as a medium of instruction since the start of its implementation in 2012. Given the challenges such as the lack of textbooks written in the mother tongue and the lack of teacher training on using the mother tongue as a language of instruction, Gatchalian said it is difficult to achieve academic development.

The lawmaker cited the dismal performance of the country’s learners in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) where some 94% of our participating 15-year old students speak a language at home most of the time other than the medium of instruction used in the assessment, which was English. This was the second highest percentage among all PISA-participating countries. The highest was observed in Lebanon, where 98% of students do not speak the language of instruction at home.

“Children learn better and faster in a language that they can understand. This, in effect, boosts their self-esteem making them enjoy school more,” said Gatchalian.

In the implementation of the K to 12 program, instructions, teaching materials, and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of learners from Kindergarten and the first three years of elementary education. From Grade 4 to 6, Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced as languages of instruction through a language bridge program. At the secondary level, these two languages will become the primary languages of instruction.

“Bagama’t maganda ang layunin ng mother tongue policy sa ilalim ng programang K to 12, nakita natin na may mga hamon sa ating kakayahan at kahandaang ipatupad ito. Ang nakasalalay dito ay ang kalidad ng edukasyon na natatanggap ng ating mga mag-aaral, kaya ang kailangan dito ay isang masusing pag-aaral upang malaman natin kung paano ba natin matutugunan ang mga kakulangan ng naturang programa,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.