Philippines: English bill to pass despite suit

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 5 13:22:34 UTC 2007


  YOUTH & CAMPUS
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  English bill to pass despite suit
 Thursday, July 5, 2007
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*The petition challenging the enforcement of a presidential order that
builds up the use of English in schools will not prevent the new Congress
from passing legislation reinstating the language as the medium of
instruction, House Deputy Majority Leader Eduardo Gullas said. *

"We do not see the petition dampening in any way the resolve of Congress to
revive English," said Gullas, an educator and principal author of the House
bill restoring English as the teaching language. The House passed the bill
on third and final reading in September 2006. The Senate, however, failed to
act on the bill as key members became busy with their reelection bids. A
group of Filipino writers, academicians and linguists recently filed a
petition asking the Supreme Court to stop the enforcement of Executive Order
(EO) 210, which strengthens English as the second language in schools, and
Department of Education (DepEd) Order 36, which implements the presidential
directive. The petitioners belonging to the Wika ng Kultura at Agham Inc.
(WIKA) assailed EO 201 as "anti-poor" and warned it would "alienate Filipino
school children from their Filipino heritage."

The petitioners asked the High Court to nullify EO 210, which President
Arroyo issued on May 17, 2003. The petitioners also sought the scrapping of
DepEd Order 36, which Education Secretary Jesli Lapus issued last year. "We
cannot understand how a new language policy that makes it possible for more
Filipinos to get good-paying jobs, whether here or abroad, can reasonably be
considered anti-poor," Gullas said. "Enabling more Filipinos to secure
gainful employment and achieve a higher standard of living is totally
pro-poor," he stressed. "Ten Filipinos who are fully employed and
economically productive, partly if not mainly on account of their adequate
English skills, will do more good and justice to the Filipino heritage than
100 Filipinos who are jobless or underemployed because they lack English
expertise," Gullas pointed out.

"We definitely have to make our school system wholly responsive to the
fiercely competitive job markets here and abroad," Gullas said, adding the
restoration of English would also bolster the abilities of students in Math
and Science, which are taught using English books.

Under Gullas' bill:

* English, Filipino or the regional/native language may be used as the
teaching language in all subjects from preschool to Grade 2;

* English would be the teaching language in all academic subjects from Grade
3 to Grade 6, and in all levels of high school;

* English and Filipino would be taught as separate subjects in all levels of
elementary and high school;

* The current language policy prescribed by the Commission on Higher
Education would be maintained in college; and

* English would be enlivened as the language of interaction in schools.

While most Filipinos are convinced that English mastery leads to better job
opportunities, national proficiency in the language has declined by 10
percentage points over the last 12 years, according to a March 2006 survey
by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).


http://www.mb.com.ph/YTCP2007070597200.html#

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