Save the Children launches project to support mother tongue-based education, inks MOU with DepEd

Koronadal City, Philippines – To pave way for a more equitable access to primary education especially to children from indigenous and ethnic minority groups, Save the Children will launch today, September 26, its three-year education project Promoting Quality and Equality in Education for Children of Marginalized Communities in South Central Mindanao. This project, funded by Sweden-based IKEA Foundation, will support the Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTBMLE) and will be implemented in 10 elementary schools and 28 learning centers in the municipalities of T’boli, Lake Sebu, Bagumbayan and Lutayan.

For the past years, Save the Children has been doing substantial work on MTBMLE in South Central Mindanao, and in 2009 released a formative research entitled Children, languages and learning: Challenges and opportunities in Save the Children’s South Central Mindanao partner communities, which showed how children felt uncomfortable and experienced difficulty coping with an education system using English and Filipino as primary medium of instruction—shunning the use of their mother tongue and further supporting their dismal learning condition.

That same year, the Department of Education (DepEd) issued Order No. 74 stipulating the use of mother tongue or first language from pre-school up to at least third grade as the medium of instruction to help bridge the gap in learning and understanding. The MTBMLE has become one of the salient features of the recently implemented K to 12 (Kindergarten plus 12 years basic education) Program of DepEd, which aims to overhaul the current education system to improve the competitiveness of the country’s graduates.

“Save the Children has been promoting the use of mother tongue not only to help children improve their learning performance but also to improve their lives,” shares Anna Lindenfors, Country Director of Save the Children in the Philippines.

“We recognize children’s struggle in the education system, particularly in South Central Mindanao considering it is home to about 18 ethnic groups or 2 million indigenous people. We want to create a more comfortable learning environment for children so that they can reach their full potential,” adds Lindenfors.

Through this project, Save the Children in close partnership with DepEd will strengthen MTBMLE implementation in partner schools through curriculum and lesson plan management, materials development, training of teachers and development of institutional assessments.

The project will run from July 2012 to June 2015 and will focus on children’s education belonging to the three non-dominant groups of Ilonggo, Maguindanaon and T’boli. Its initiatives will include Early Childhood Transition, Day Care, Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2.

Save the Children will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding today with DepEd Region XII

to co-implement education and school health and nutrition programs (1) to provide better access to quality learning and education opportunities; 2) to improve capacities of parents, teachers and communities to support quality education; 3) to establish mechanisms and structures from regional to school levels; and, 4) to engage in documentation and research activities, and monitor, assess and evaluate program implementation.

Save the Children believes that children gain knowledge best when they use what they already know from their experience, particularly use a language they are familiar with. When they do so, their learning becomes more meaningful and relevant and they develop fluency, confidence and thus inclusive learning.

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