ILOCANO ONLINE

Iloco, literatura, cultura, kdpy.

‘multilingual_ed’ twitter account: a grassroots approach

We’ve just set up a twitter account with the username ‘multilingual_ed‘ and it’s for all of us who give a hoot about preserving our languages, our regional literature, our colorful and rich cultural diversity as a nation by promoting multilingual education (MLE) using a no-nonsense grassroots approach to keep our varied languages–NOT just Filipino and English–vibrant and out of the jaws of eventual extinction. We are going to sync our efforts with other MLE advocacy groups such as Mother Tongue Based Learning for the Philippines, the Lubuagan/SIL First Language Education experiment, the Pangasinan Provincial Resolution No. 195-2008, SOLFED, etc., to show the seriousness of our coalition to make multilingual education a reality.

But first, just what is multilingual educationUNESCO adopted the term ‘multilingual education’ in 1999 in the General Conference Resolution 12 to refer to the use of at least three languages, the mother tongue, a regional or national language and an international language in education. (In the case of the Philippines, the three languages as stipulated in the 1987 Constitution would be the mother tongue, Filipino and English.)  UNESCO’s General Conference Resolution 12 supported the view that the requirements of global and national participation, and the specific needs of particular, culturally and linguistically distinct communities can only be addressed by multilingual education.

What then is education in the mother tongue? In Education in a Multilingual World, a UNESCO document based on extensive research on the effects of using the mother tongue as the language of instruction in the child’s early education, “Mother tongue instruction generally refers to the use of the learners’ mother tongue (the language spoken at home, L1) as the medium of instruction. Additionally, it can refer to the mother tongue as a subject of instruction. It is considered to be an important component of quality education, particularly in the early years. The expert view is that mother tongue instruction should cover both the teaching of and the teaching through this language.”

This UN document further states: First, “There is much research which shows that students learn to read more quickly when taught in their mother tongue. Second, students who have learned to read in their mother tongue learn to read in a second language more quickly than do those who are first taught to read in the second language. Third, in terms of academic learning skills as well, students taught to read in their mother tongue acquire such skills more quickly.”

Although there are some difficulties encountered by the use of mother tongues as languages of instruction, they are not exactly insurmountable.  These include the following:

  • sometimes the mother tongue may be an unwritten language;
  • sometimes the language may not even be generally recognized as constituting a legitimate language;
  • the appropriate terminology for education purposes may still have to be developed;
  • there may be a shortage of educational materials in the language;
  • the multiplicity of languages may exacerbate the difficulty of providing schooling in each mother tongue;
  • there may be a lack of appropriately trained teachers;
  • there may be resistance to schooling in the mother tongue by students, parents and teachers. (Ironically, there’s a pocket of Filipinos who come under this category for short-sighted, mostly socio-economic reasons.)

In “THE PROSPECTS OF MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION AND LITERACY IN THE PHILIPPINES (2008)“, Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, Acting Chair, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), wrote: “A basic weakness is plaguing Philippine education. It is that many pupils do not understand what their teacher is saying and therefore they cannot follow the lesson. Why? Because the language in school is one they can hardly speak and understand.” Nolasco indicated that the “KWF suggested that a law be passed mandating the primary use of the learner’s first language (L1 or mother tongue) from pre-school to grade 6, or at least up to grade 4. In our proposal, Filipino and English should be taught at the elementary level but only as separate subjects, and not as media of instruction.” He has since advocated support for the passage of the Gunigundo Multilingual Education Bill which basically reflects his suggestions.

Actually, we really don’t need another enabling law to incorporate the use of the mother tongue as the language of instruction in our schools, most likely at the grade school level.  Section 7, Article XIV, of the 1987 Constitution provides, among other things, that “The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.”

There are two Department of Education orders, however, that completely ignore this provision of the Constitution, to wit:

DepEd Order #43 of 2003 lays down the time allocations for elementary courses–which ones to be taught in English and which ones to be taught in Filipino (the ones with course titles in Filipino)–NONE WHATSOEVER IN THE REGIONAL LANGUAGE as clearly spelled out in our Constitution!  Here’s how it looks:

THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM

Learning Areas

Daily Time Allotment – Minutes Per Day

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

English

100

100

100

80

80

80

Filipino

80

80

80

60

60

60

Mathematics

80

80

80

60

60

60

Science and Health

40

60

60

60

Makabayan

100

120

120

Sibika at Kultura

60

60

60

Heograpiya, Kasaysayan at Sibika

(40)

(40)

(40)

Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan

(40)

(40)

(40)

Musika, Sining, Edukasyong Pangkalusugan

(20)

(40)

(40)

Total.Number of Minutes Daily

320

320

360

360

380

380

DepEd Order #36 of 2006 does the same thing for the high school curriculum, the major difference being that  it requires that 70% of the time English is to be used as MOI for courses such as English, Science, Mathematics, Technology & Livelihood Education, Music, Arts, PE & Health, and Citizenship Advancement Training; for the remaining 30% Filipino is to be used as MOI for Filipino, Araling Panlipunan, and Edukasyon sa Pagpapahalaga. The Order also requires that English be taught as a subject from Grade I.  Additionally, it requires that English be used as MOI for English, Mathematics, Science and Health starting from Grade III.  Same thing:  No regional language mentioned as auxilliary medium of instruction as stipulated by the Constitution.

To its credit, the Department of Education on August 27, 2008, acting ostensibly on the growing body of research documenting the many advantages of the use of the mother tongue as language of instruction during the child’s early education–specifically one study that’s close to home, the Lubuagan First Language Education experiment in Northern Luzon–issued DepEd Order #60 as an ADDENDUM TO DEPED ORDER #36 S. 2006, integrating the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction beginning from Grade 1 and authorizing the utilization of MOOE (Maintainance and Other Operating Expenses), school board funds and other funds for expenditures that may be required during the planning and implementation phases of using the mother tongue as the language of instruction to include “(a) developing, printing and distributing teachers’/facilitators’ guides, students’/learners’ workbooks, and other instructional materials; (b) training of teachers and hiring of specialists; and (c) other auxilliary services including advocacy work and community mobilization and evaluation and monitoring of learning outcomes.”

In the Province of Pangasinan, a political division with about a million residents who speak Pangasinense, Provincial Resolution No. 195-2008 was approved in March 2008 (ahead of DepEd Order #60 S. 2008) “authorizing the creation of an ad hoc committee to conduct research, make recommendations, and initiate action on the establishment of a Pangasinan Language and Heritage Center, Pangasinan Museum and the conduct of experimental classes with the use of Pangasinan Language as a Medium of Instruction in the elementary grades and appropriating the sum of P1 million for said purpose.”  If there is no legal challenge to this action of a major political subdivision of the country or even Lubuagan, the obvious conclusion, in spite of DepEd Order #60, is that multilingual education may be initiated where there is a will to have it to stem the decline or eventual death of most any given language other than Tagalog because it is aggressively being supplanted by Filipino and English. DepEd Order #60 is just icing on the cake! In fact, for the creative writers among us, DepEd Order #60 opens up a great opportunity to create or collaborate with DepEd in creating course content, specifically culturally correct content appropriate for each indigenous language.

Given our experience with the government’s intentions and its dismal record in realizing them, we can not afford to idle by and hope DepEd Order #60 will just happen.  Now to make sure that the Department of Education is serious about implementing DepEd Order #60, we are going to be PROACTIVE and use a grassroots approach to move heaven and earth to see to it that the regional languages are actually used as media of instruction in the desired balance under a multilingual education policy for our children’s education, a well thought-of balance that will ensure the survival of our languages and the uniquely colorful and rich cultural diversity they support. We are going to twitter or email the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch (Senate and House of Representatives), the Judicial Branch, Provincial Governors and their respective Provincial Boards, Mayors and their respective City or Municipal Councils, Barangay leaders, DepEd, TESDA, CHED, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, SIL, SOLFED, ethnic cultural organizations, school administrative leaders at all elementary, secondary, tertiary and vocational levels, curriculum content and textbook authors, developers and translators, online MLE content and web developers, media outlets (newspaper, radio and television), Internet bloggers, related websites and content aggregators, interested individual participants and stakeholders (for Ilocano: GUMIL, TMI, NAKEM, Bannawag, Tawid News Magasin), Mother Tongue Based Learning for the Philippines, the Lubuagan/SIL First Language Education, Pangasinan Provincial Resolution No. 195-2008, mother tongue and MLE advocacies, etc.–yes, we’re going to twitter all of the above until collectively we are satisfied that DepEd (through DepEd Order # 60) and the other functionalities of government have laid down the infrastructure and begun to reap the desired result of a sound multilingual education system throughout the entire country.  We shall continue to twitter just so the regional languages are no longer imperiled, marginalized or killed, albeit unintentionally, by government’s lopsided intervention on behalf of Filipino and English. [I mentioned in an earlier post the widespread decline of Ilocano as documented by Jim Agpalo, Jr., in “Ania, maiparit ti agsao iti Iluko?“, Cles Rambaud in “The Marginalization of the Ilocano Language“, and Elizabeth Calinawagan in her NAKEM paper “Empowering Ilokano as Language for Local Governance.”]

So when twitter asks you what you are doing, you now have something to twitter about.  Please send all the folks concerned, as well as, multilingual_ed, your tweet!  Do please give us your views about the use of the mother tongue as MOI in grade school, in particular, and multilingual education, in general. Tweet about their merits or otherwise, or just how a good MLE program should look like and how it should be implemented, or just tweet about any of the wonderful things you’re doing that you want to share.  As a personal preference, I’m tweeting in support of Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino Acting Chair Ricardo Ma. Nolasco’s professional suggestion, namely, the primary use of the learner’s first language (L1 or mother tongue) as medium of instruction from pre-school to grade 6 (NOT grade 4), with Filipino and English being taught at the elementary level only as separate subjects, and not as media of instruction. I’m tweeting in support of tweaking DepEd Order #60 s. 2008 to reflect Dr. Nolasco’s expert common-sense suggestion. Your every tweet shall become part of history–the one that will give life to a vibrant multilingual education policy in the Philippines that may just save your mother tongue and mine.

For MLE to succeed in the Philippines, Nolasco says, community support and empowerment, among other things, must be present. That means YOUR support and MY support.

This time technology is on our side:  We’re going to twitter OUR collective support.

April 28, 2009 - Posted by | education, Gullas English bill, GUMIL, Guniigundo Multilingual and Literacy bill, language policy, medium of instruction, online learning, peer-to-peer university, Roxas Omnibus Education and Literacy bill | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. this article is cute. we use twitter to be updated by fellows close or not so close to us. 🙂

    Comment by Yes Dumagan | April 30, 2009

  2. Less than 6 weeks after we set the twitter grassroots campaign for an MLE directive from the government, DepEd Secretary Jesli A. Lapus signed DepEd Order No. 74 s.2009 institutionalizing mother tongue-based multilingual education as the government’s policy. It was a breakthrough of sorts!

    Comment by joepadre | August 27, 2009


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