Last month, a group of educators, scholars and other prominent individuals filed a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the policies of the government which mandate the use of English as medium of instruction in schools. This sparked a spirited debate in mainstream media and of course in the blogosphere as to what should be the best language to be used in Philippine schools.
Wow Manila gives a backgrounder to the controversial memo of President Gloria Arroyo pertaining to the main language to be taught in schools:
“On May 17, 2003, the President Arroyo promulgated Executive Order No. 210 titled “Establishing the Policy to Strengthen English as a Second Language in the Educational System.” The salient points of the EO are the following:
* English should be taught as a second language at all levels of the educational system, starting with the First Grade;
* English should be used as the medium of instruction for English, Math and Science from at least the third Grade level;
* The English language shall be used as a primary medium of instruction in all public institutions of learning at the secondary level.”
Petitioner Patricia Licuanan appeals for a broader appreciation of the problems besetting Philippine education:
“It's not just English—it's the whole educational system! The deterioration of English must be understood in the context of the general decline in Philippine education. The problem we are facing is not simply the deterioration of English. It is also the deterioration of Math and Science, and it is this general decline that undermines the competitiveness of the Filipino and the Philippines. Indeed, undue emphasis on English may distract us from the bigger problem. Upgrading education in general should improve the quality of English as well.”
Tugot supports the memorandum order of the President. Blackshama's blog contributes in the language debate. A nagueño in the blogosphere agrees with the arguments of the petitioners. Filipina soul presents two views on the issue, and her post generated a lively discussion.
Philippine Schools Online reviews past proposals on the language issue and mentions the current legislative measures favoring the use of English in schools. My Philippine Life looks into the language policies in the country.
A must-read: Manuel L. Quezon III uploads the pertinent documents, news articles, opinion pieces and shares his perspective on the ‘language wars’ in the Philippines.
Perhaps the most intelligible blogpost in advocating the adoption of English comes from Philippine Commentary. A sample of his views:
“The main point I think is that English is an integral and inseparable and most substantial part of the Filipino cultural heritage–ineradicably a part of our intellectual, educational, and historical patrimony. Its rejection and treatment as “foreign” is a twisted form of the self-loathing that some people wish us all to practice as “nationalism.” What they actually are propagating is a romantic kind of aboriginalism that masks a more modern and leftist agenda…Nearly 100 percent of all major scientific papers are published in English, even by non-native English speakers, not only in Computer Science, but in Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, and the rest of the hard sciences. English is unavoidably the lingua Anglica of the world in this historical epoch, even if it irks the Filipino nationalists and their ideologies of resentment.”
Philippines Without Borders on why the need to master the English language?
“Because everybody else is trying to do the same. Right now, there are probably close to 400 million native English speakers, making English the third largest language next to Mandarin Chinese and Spanish…We should not dilly-dally on embracing policies that would restore the importance of English in Philippine society.”
Seek no more links to an article written by Babe Romualdez on the mistake to reject English as the medium of instruction:
“Filipinos are clearly losing out because of that very big mistake to abolish the use of English as a medium of instruction 20 years ago. Today, a lot of employers are complaining about the deteriorating quality of our graduates, and the fact that majority of them lack the required skill and facility in the English language.”
A small gleaning factory provides an excerpt of a study on the origins of Taglish: a combination of Tagalog and English. The sane unstable2: fighting temptations on school rules in learning English and the uses of this foreign language in Philippine society. Voltaire Oyzon on why English is patronized in the provinces:
“One common misconception about the Philippines is that it speaks only one language–and that is Tagalog (honey-coated as Filipino). In fact, Tagalog/Filipino speakers comprise only 29 percent of the total population and the rest are non-Tagalog…If English is a threat to the Tagalog/Filipino language because it is foreign, then Tagalog/Filipino is also a threat to all the non-Tagalog languages for the same reason. The English language, from the non-Tagalog point of view, is neutral in the sense that it is used globally.”
The Pinoy has an article which notes the concern of foreign investors and business sector on the deteriorating English proficiency in the country. But Businessmirror reports that some Japanese companies are leaving the country, and transferring to China, Thailand and Vietnam because few workers speak Niponggo in the Philippines.
hapoNessa on why the government wants students to learn English:
“Let's face it, the Philippine's biggest export is human labor, and the only thing keeping our economy afloat are those dollar remmittances. The government wants us to learn English so that we can find jobs abroad. We're not learning English for our benefit, we're learning it to serve our masters.”
ThirtySomething v4.3 quotes various studies on the importance of emphasizing native language in the education of children:
“Beyond the preachy rhetorics, other studies on bilingual and multi-lingual methods of education across the world also show that students do better in school if they are taught in their mother tongue instead of an English-only medium of instruction…Why is Malacañang then so petulant on insisting an English-homogenized medium of instruction in schools?”