Philippines: Teachers vow SC war against use of English

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Dec 21 14:52:44 UTC 2006

Teachers vow SC war against use of English

By Jonathan M. Hicap, Reporter

Teachers will go to the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of a bill
seeking to mandate the use of English as the medium of instruction in all
subjects, except Filipino, in schools. We will question its
constitutionality before the Supreme Court the moment it becomes a law,
said Antonio Tinio, chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
He said House Bill 4701 is illegal as it violates Article 14 of the
Constitution on the use of Filipino as official language of communication
and instruction. The bills official name is the Strengthening and
Enhancing the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction Act.

House Bill 4701 passed by the Lower House and the counterpart Senate bill
will wipe out the gains of generations of nationalists who have fought to
develop the national language, Tinio warned. Proponents of the bill want
our educational system to revert to the American colonial mode, he said.

Impossible task

But one of the bills authors said reviving English as medium of
instruction would end the language interference that has impeded the total
learning process in schools. Rep. Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said
linguists have blamed language interference for basic educations general
decline over the last 30 years. The targeting of the simultaneous learning
of two languages [English and Filipino] under the bilingual policy of 1974
is just too much for our schoolchildren, especially in the lower grades,
Villafuerte pointed out. If the child happens to be a non-Tagalog
speakerand majority of our kids in school are non-Tagalog speakerslearning
English and Filipino actually means absorbing two foreign languages at the
same time, an almost impossible task, he said.

Villafuerte is one of the six authors of the House-approved bill seeking
to reinstate English as the teaching language. The other authors are
Representatives Eduardo Gullas, Edmundo Reyes Jr., Cynthia Villar, Alipio
Cirilo Badelles and Raul del Mar. The House approved the bill in
September. It is awaiting action by the Senate.


If it becomes a law, it will discard the bilingual instruction policy of
the Department of Education, which mandates the use of Filipino and
English as mediums of instruction in elementary, high school, college and
vocational and technical schools. Education Secretary Jesli Lapus,
however, has already jumped the gun on legislators. He issued DepEd Order
36 in August mandating all public and private high schools to use English
as the primary medium of instruction. He also ordered the use of English
as a second language starting in Grade 1. Other educators see the bill as
a relevant policy to strengthen the competence of students.

Dr. Eduardo de la Cruz, dean of Arellano Universitys School of Education
and Normal, said English is a universal language that would help students
get into the corporate world. [Competence in English] is one of the skills
for you to be employed. We are now in a borderless world. Students have to
be equipped with a language understood by many, he said. De la Cruz said
students today are poor in English, a reality reflected in the results of
the National Achievement Test. However, he said a program has to be
prepared on how schools will start the use of English starting in the
elementary level. De la Cruz also said there are many teachers who are
poor when it comes to spoken English so they resort to using Filipino in
the classroom even if the subject should be taught in English. These
teachers need retraining, he said.

No answer

In a position paper, Dr. Lilia Antonio of the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino of
the University of the Philippines in Diliman, said House Bill 4701 would
kill the Filipino language. She said it discards scientific studies, which
show that students can effectively learn a second language like English if
their foundation in the first language is strong. Antonio said the policy
of President Arroyo to use English as a means to be globally competitive
only creates world class citizens that belong to the levels of domestic
helpers, call-center operators and doctors and nurses who seek greener
pasture abroad. The policy on the use of English language only creates a
mindset that Filipinos should serve at the mercy of foreigners. She said
the use of English is not the answer to the problems of the country.

We have long been using English but the economic and educational problems
of the nation still remain, Antonio wrote in Filipino. She said what is
needed is a government with political will.


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list