Establishment of a multilingual education and literacy program urged

By Lorelei V. Castillo, MRS-PRIB
04 August 2010 10:03:59 AM

A lawmaker today pushed for the early passage of a measure establishing a multilingual education program designed to upgrade the literacy program of the government.

Rep. Magtanggol T. Gunigundo I (2nd District, Valenzuela City) said House Bill 162 institutionalizes the use of the child’s first language as the primary Medium Of Instruction (MOI) in all subjects from pre-school up to the end of the child’s elementary education.

“With Department Order No. 74 promulgated by the Department of Education last July 14, 2009 that institutionalizes mother tongue-based multi-lingual education for the critical years of basic education, Congress must give permanency to this emancipatory policy,” Gunigundo said.

Under the bill known as “The Multi-Lingual Education and Literacy Act of 2010,” the first language, English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in the elementary level.

Starting Grade IV, English and Filipino shall be gradually introduced as MOI in some parts of the elementary school curriculum subject and in the secondary level, English and Filipino shall be the MOI, the first language shall be used as auxiliary medium, the bill provides.

The bill retains in the tertiary level the current language policy as prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

All the requirements, devices and support facilities necessary to strengthen, enhance and develop mother tongue instruction such as trainings and orientations for teachers’ manuals, learning modules, textbooks, audio-visual aides and other auxiliary teaching and learning materials shall be formulated, developed and provided by the Department of Education (DepEd) and by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF).

Gunigundo said the bill abides by Section 5 of Republic Act 8980, the Early Childhood Care and Development Act, which authorizes the use of the child’s first language as MOI.

The bill is also in accord with the 1990 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly Articles 28 and 30, which recognizes the right of the child to education and to learn and use the language of his family, Gunigundo added.

“Our position is anchored and supported by empirical data culled by education language experts worldwide that finds the multi-lingual approach to be a very effective tool for literacy,” Gunigundo said.

According to Gunigundo, using the language the child understands not only affirms the value of the child and his cultural heritage.

It also enables the child to immediately master the lessons in the school curriculum and at the same time facilitates the acquisition of Filipino and English that will also be taught in the first language of the child, Gunigundo said.

Gunigundo said as the mother tongue is utilized in the classrooms, the critical thinking and reading skills of the child that are developed transfer to the other languages when those languages become functional.

“Language scholars around the world unanimously say that children learn best in their own languages, not in foreign language. Students taught in the mother tongue are more active in class and are able to learn more, achieve more and be more productive members of society,” Gunigundo said.

“The multi-lingual education approach is the best direction to take to improve the quality of education for all Filipinos, including members of both ethnic and linguistic minorities and pave their escape from poverty,” Gunigundo explained.

The budgetary requirements shall be released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with the initial funding of P100 Million each for the DepEd and KWF and an increase of 5% thereon in the succeeding fiscal year for the next ten years.

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