LA UNION: Effective Language-in-Education Policies

Gov. Manuel C. Ortega


Filipino children have the right to high-quality education that:

  1. is accessible;
  2. provides knowledge, skills, and wisdom for students to become active, thinking, useful, and compassionate members of society;
  3. is a partner—not a saboteur—in the cultural diversity of the country;
  4. empowers individuals to appreciate, adapt, and contribute to local, national and international life; and
  5. facilitates sustainable development.

Backed by various international legal instruments and copious research, mother tongue education is vital for achieving accessibility and equality in our education system, preserving our cultural diversity, and raising achievement levels. English, meanwhile, is critical in opening doors to further opportunities in business, science, technology, and communication. Filipino, meanwhile, is the national language for which the Government has taken steps to initiate and sustain. A multilingual basic education system is the only sensible system that takes these conditions into account. With numerous conflicting Congressional bills related to medium of instruction filed, however, and the Department of Education proceeding with the K-12 plan, the ideal sequence of languages is one that finds balance between the main interest groups without undermining basic research-validated recommendations on education in multilingual societies. The balance is difficult but not impossible.

Analyzing the features most vital to a would-be Medium of Instruction (MOI) policy in the Philippines, we present an example language sequence that seeks to enhance the role of English and our native languages.

It envisions the use of the mother tongue as the primary medium of instruction until Grade 6, with a bona fide transitional period of 2 years (grades 5-6), similar to House Bill 162 (An Act Establishing a Multi-Lingual Education And Literacy Program, And For Other Purposes”).

At the secondary level, our province-mates stress the importance of English and therefore we advocate its use as a medium of instruction for the majority of subjects, similar to House Bill 93 (“An Act to Strengthen and Enhance the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction in Philippine Schools”).

Filipino meanwhile should be retained as the medium of instruction in select subjects (for all pupils), and of course as the MOI for elementary pupils in native Tagalog areas.

We hope policy makers and implementers may find this concept paper useful in reconciling the competing proposals on the use of languages in our education system. At the very least, may it provide insight to some of the concerns and wishes of Filipinos beyond the National Capital Region.

For the complete document, click onEffective Language-in-Education Policies: A Provincial Perspective.”

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