Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco of the UP Linguistics Department reports that the following on-line and off-line petition calling for the scrapping of the English-only policy in Philippine schools has been launched by the UP Samahang Linggwistika and UP Layap. The petition is to be sent to Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (firstname.lastname@example.org) on August 19, 2013.
It will be recalled that the President signed the Enhanced Basic Education Act 0f 2013 (RA 10533) just last May 15th and the new law has Multilingual Education provisions enshrined in its Section 4 as follows:
“Basic education shall be delivered in languages understood by the learners as the language plays a strategic role in shaping the formative years of learners.
For kindergarten and the first three (3) years of elementary education, instruction, teaching materials and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of the learners. The Department of Education (DepED) shall formulate a mother language transition program from Grade 4 to Grade 6 so that Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced as languages of instruction until such time when these two (2) languages can become the primary languages of instruction at the secondary level.”
The primary languages of instruction at the secondary level, according to the law, are Filipino and English — NOT English only (emphasis supplied). As RA 10533 was published in the Official Gazette on May 15, 2013 (latest update: May 16, 2013), the presumption is the law was already in effect when those three students from Saviour’s Christian Academy, Laoag City, were essentially expelled on July 31, 2013, for speaking Ilocano on campus reportedly in violation of an English-only in school policy. Of course, Deped Order No. 74 s. 2009 institutionalizes the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction from kindergarten to third grade and Filipino and English as medium of instruction from fourth grade to high school.
Here’s the full text of the petition:
SCRAP THE ENGLISH-ONLY POLICY IN SCHOOLS (STEPS)
An Urgent Petition to Outlaw the English-Only Rule in Philippine Schools
August 19, 2013
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III
Dear Mr. President:
Almost every Filipino learner of the last five generations has suffered from some form of verbal, monetary, academic and corporal punishment as a result of the English-only policy in schools.
The recent expulsion of three students in a Laoag City school for speaking Ilocano in campus compels a thorough review of the very premises of such a widespread policy.
While we believe that learning a global language such as English is essential at present, the imposition of an English-only rule in schools has failed to achieve its desired end. The policy has only succeeded in curtailing our constitutional rights to speak and to be educated in our own languages, including Filipino Sign Language.
We therefore urge our executive officials to immediately ban the English-only policy in all Philippine schools for being unconstitutional, violative of our human rights and harmful to the education of our youth. We also call on government to adopt a new language-in-education policy that supports the learning of English but not at the expense of our nation’s languages. This policy should agree with the President’s view that we need English to connect to the world, the national language to connect to our country and our native languages to connect to our cultural heritage and identity.