The MTBMLE Express: unstoppable

As I recall, before DepEd Order No. 74 s.2009, there was this gaggle of folks passionate and determined to have the people in DepEd’s sancto santorum look beyond the old bilingual policy of requiring English and Filipino as the MOI at the primary and secondary levels. Although Sec. 7, Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution mandates that “The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein,” there was no energy and will to implement the mandate. Even then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got into the action when she issued Executive Order #210 on May 17, 2003 requiring that no less than 70 percent of all teaching areas at the secondary level be conducted using English as the MOI with the remainder to be taught using Filipino as the MOI. So when DepEd Order #74 was given the green light by former DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus while President Arroyo was still running the country in 2009, I was mildly surprised. And, of course, deeply elated.

But the back-and-forth and not-so-subtle horsetrading before that among the MLE advocates who ultimately got the upper hand in creating a sense of urgency (well, we didn’t call it “UNSTOPPABLE” back then) for ‘legitimizing’ MTBMLE (technically, the 1987 Constitution already made it legit) and making it a reality at last was, to call it mildly, furious. When I reviewed old emails prior to July 14, 2009 when DO 74 finally got approved, I noted that there must have been more than a hundred of them over a few hundred pages. Here’s a sampler:

Dear ____,

I think I found the answer to your “sequencing of learning” concern:

“…you have said in the same bullet that “English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects through the mother tongue starting from grade IV”. I think you mean “starting from Grade 1″ right? It is too late to start teaching these as subjects in Grade IV…”

Chap. 3 (Theoretical Framework) of The Philippine Roadmap to Multi-Literacy (BESRA) provides the following passages:

“For Marinova-Todd, Marshall and Snow (2000), quality of L2 exposure is more important than age of initial exposure in determining L2 acquisition success…”

“As studies have shown, when the spoken language of a child has an orthographic equivalent, it is best to develop literacy in that language to ensure that child is able to understand what he or she is expected to read. Therefore, it is vital to realize that literacy more easily and efficiently develops in the language that that learner knows and speaks… It can be seen that the present basic education program for language and literacy development does not build upon oral language ability in the first language (L1) but instead immediately teaches children to read in the two target languages of the curriculum. The gap is a significant oversight of the strength of first language literacy contributions to future language and literacy development in additional languages. This is most especially true for the early years when such abilities are starting to form and grow. The difficulties that children might encounter due to the lack of oral language background in target languages create two or more layers of difficulty in literacy acquisition. The first is that students have to learn two unfamiliar languages simultaneously. The second difficulty is having to learn to read in two orthographies while learning to speak these two languages… Not only is it cognitively easier but it also has socio-emotional implications to the child’s well being. When children are made to read in a language they do not understand, often times, children report that their language is not valued in the classroom…”

And the response came tumbling in:

Hi ___,

First, let me say that I am very much in favor of use of the L1 as MOI for as long as possible. Building a strong foundation in L1 will only improve the child’s ability to learn in other languages (building CALP in L1 for 12 years). We have developed sequence of learning charts for the Philippines for 3 langs. (L1 + Fil. + Eng.), and for 2 langs. (Filipino as L1 + English). Let me know if you’d like to see them.

However, in a policy document, it is asking a lot for policy-makers to hold off introduction of Oral and Literacy skills in Filipino and English to the point you advocate. My feeling is it simply won’t be signed if we advocate that hard for later intro. of L2 and L3. So, bringing L2 and L3 in as I have indicated in the document is what we advocate. Additionally, we have proven the effectiveness of this sequencing in Lub., so there’s no worry that it won’t be effective. It will be.

Re orthography, I will say, What we need to do is preserve the uniqueness of Philippine languages by preserving their unique sounds, through unique representations, as much as possible.

There’s so much more history behind Deped 74 and MTBMLE. Probably doesn’t explain much why, for me,  jubilant thoughts and emotions well up when Dr. Isabel Pefianco Martin, associate professor at the School of Humanities, Ateneo de Manila University, writes that the MTBMLE Express is unstoppable! — JP

The MTBMLE Express: unstoppable

mBy Isabel Pefianco Martin
Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 15, 2011


ALMOST TWO years after the Department of Education, through Order No. 74 s. 2009, pushed for the use of the first language in basic education, efforts at implementing MTBMLE (mother tongue based multilingual education) are gaining significant ground. Through the leadership of Dr. Rose Villaneza, DepEd’s national coordinator for MTBMLE, the first of four phases of intensive training has commenced and continues to be conducted throughout the country.

Last school year, pilot programs were implemented in selected schools in Valenzuela and Parañaque. Soon after, 170+ Talaytayan MLE Consortium, one of the most active advocates of

MTBMLE, published a collection of essays aptly entitled “Starting Where the Children Are.” And although House Bill No. 162 sponsored by Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo remains a bill, the MTBMLE Express is speeding up and looks unstoppable.

Click here to read the full article.

3 thoughts on “The MTBMLE Express: unstoppable

  1. Manong Joe and Isabel: go! go!

    But we must remember: there are blocks, real and imagined (and there are well-meaning enemies too!) on the road to MLE. You are both right.

    But we cannot be triumphal. There are signs of conquests and counter-conquests on the wall of homogenous national culture and hegemonic oneness/unity as defined by people who look at the world from the logic of their convenience and comfort.

    History has taught us a lesson; we need this lesson now more than ever.

    This is some kind of a dampener, I feel it. But the more we go deeper into this struggle, the lesson must always be before us. All the time, all of the time, in all times.

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