Philippines: House OKs bill mandating use of English as medium of instruction

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Sep 21 13:34:13 UTC 2006

House OKs bill mandating use of English as medium of instruction

By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star 09/21/2006

Voting 132-7, the House of Representatives approved on third and final
reading a bill mandating English as the medium of instruction in all
schools across the country. House Bill 4701 or An Act to Strengthen and
Enhance the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction in Philippine
Schools was approved in plenary Tuesday night. It will be transmitted to
the Senate for approval. House Deputy Speaker for Visayas Raul del Mar,
who represents the first district of Cebu City, said several measures had
been filed in the past seeking to reinstate English as the medium of
instruction in Philippine schools but this was the first time that such
bill was approved on the floor.

The English bill provides that English, Filipino or the local dialect may
be used in all subjects from pre-school up to Grade II. However, from
Grade III onwards, English and Filipino should be taught as separate
subjects. In high school, English will be the medium of instruction in all
levels and in all academic subjects. The current language policy as
prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will be maintained
at the tertiary level. "In addition to formal instruction, the use of
English shall be encouraged as a language of interaction in school," the
bill stated. "Corollary to this, the organization of English shall be
encouraged. In school publications, the use of English shall be given
priority as far as practicable."

Cebu City Rep. Eduardo Gullas, an educator whose family owns a school,
said that for the past 12 years, the proficiency of Filipinos in English
which was once considered as the countrys advantage for decades has
deteriorated. "It has become unmistakably clear that the ability of
Filipinos to comprehend, write and speak English is fast deteriorating,
and the problem has been depriving our people the opportunity to secure
good-paying jobs and a better future for themselves," he said. If the
government does nothing to address the problem, Gullas warned that the
"rapid decline in the English competency of Filipinos would eventually
erode the competitiveness of the countrys human resources, both here and

Gullas's statement was issued after a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS)
survey indicated that Filipinos self-assessed proficiency in the English
language declined considerably over the last 12 years. A March 2006 survey
showed a decline in all aspects of English mastery, most notably in the
ability to speak English, as compared to results of similar polls in
December 1993 and September 2000. For his part, Education Secretary Jesli
Lapus admitted that the Philippines is losing jobs to other Asian
countries in business process outsourcing due to declining English
proficiency. "As a nation and as a people, we have a crisis in our hands
an education in crisis. And make no mistake about it that crisis is here,"
said Lapus.

Lapus pronouncement was made before hundreds of representatives from
different private companies during the re-launch of the Department of
Educations "Adopt-a-School" program. He urged business leaders to support
basic education and emphasized the need for various stakeholders to defeat
the education crisis. "Failure to provide quality education for all
Filipinos will lead to further decline of our countrys socio-economic
condition," Lapus said.  "With millions of young Filipinos unskilled,
ill-equipped and ill-prepared to compete in the international arena, our
future workforce will be relegated to do less productive tasks."  With
Sandy Araneta


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