Abandoning the MTB-MLE policy will not solve the learning crisis
On September 13, the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Culture deliberated on the suspension of the implementation of mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE). If this happens, 19 languages will be excluded from the K-3 curriculum. Now tell me, what does this risky decision teach us about the way we are as Filipinos?
Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo and Baguio City Rep. Mark Go filed bills proposing to remove MTB-MLE from Republic Act No. 10533 due to lack of materials of learning. But research shows that MTB-MLE can dramatically improve student understanding because it provides students with a medium of teaching and learning that is easily understood and integrated into their daily lives.
I am a pure Ilocano child who grew up mostly using our Ilocano language. The first words that came out of my mouth other than “mom” and “dad” were probably the same language I was exposed to. I always struggled as a young learner. Curious about how this potential law will affect the child I once was, I spoke to an expert in my province. He said there is high anxiety among students to recite because of the language used in class. But when MTB-MLE was applied, the courses became more lively. Hearing this, I felt seen, and the doubt I felt as a child seemed reasonable to me.
This is not the first time the government has attempted to erase our identity by denying learners the opportunity to learn in their mother tongue. As cliché as it sounds, learning is indeed a lifelong process. If not for new and deeper knowledge of the language, keeping Filipino and native language subjects will serve as a reminder of who we are and how we have become as Filipinos. We are not only called citizens of the Philippines because of our appearance, tint of our complexion and our simple gestures which stand out from other nationalities. The language we use plays a huge role in terms of our culture and heritage.
Have you ever wondered why it is so shameful for women joining a pageant to ask for an interpreter during the question and answer round? Because it is ingrained in our DNA that proficiency in the English language will define one’s intelligence. Our neglect of what is ours is so evident whenever we are so invested in judging others’ ability to function under pressure in an environment with which they are not comfortable. Unfortunately, it’s the same with our young learners inside academia.
It is true that mastering the universal language of the world will be an advantage when viewed from a global perspective. This is why I advocate that English be introduced to a child as early as possible without sacrificing the use of our regional languages.
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