Erwin S. Fernandez
(Presented at the 1st MLE Conference, “Reclaiming the Right to Learn in One’s Own Language,” Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro City, Feb 18-20, 2010.)
ABSTRACT: This article explores the thinking of Pangasinan educator Dr. Pedro T. Orata on the teaching of the mother tongue in the classroom. Against the background of Orata’s philosophy on education, it discusses Orata’s view on the community school and its implications towards multilingual education in the Philippines.
The advocacy to teach non-Tagalog languages to save them from dying and extinction had to be founded on Filipino educational philosophy and practices. And one of the original thinkers in Philippine education is Pedro T. Orata. There are few studies that focused on Orata’s life and works. Corpuz (1971) discussed Orata’s philosophy on quality and quantity education along with two other Philippine education giants: Vitaliano Bernardino and Jose V. Aguilar. Bacani (1973) examined Orata’s life and its significance to Philippine education. Borlaza (1984), although producing a limited biography of Orata according to Arcilla (1985), wrote the first full-length life account of the Pangasinan educator. Calvero (1994), a disciple of Orata, identified in Orata’s life as educator the legacies he left in Philippine education and society.
Orata is known as the father of barrio high schools movement in the Philippines and for pioneering in realizing his belief that “education is for all”, the Ramon Magsaysay award for public service was bestowed on him in 1971 citing his “44 years of creative work in education, particularly his conception and promotion of barrio high schools for rural Filipino youth” (Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation 1971a). But his philosophy of education was hinged on his idea of a community school well before he commenced and headed the movement, a concept that rose out of his experience in getting education.
This article traces the origins of Orata’s concept of a community school, explores Orata’s position on the use of the mother tongue and finally examines Orata’s possible contributions to multilingual education in the Philippines today.
For the complete article, click on The Community School and the Mother Tongue: Dr. Pedro T. Orata on Multilingual Education.