Gatchalian wants Senate probe on ‘mother tongue’ policy in K-12 curriculum

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) - Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on the implementation of the mother tongue-based multilingual education to address the poor academic performance of Filipino students.

“Bagama't maganda ang layunin ng mother tongue policy sa ilalim ng programang K to 12, nakita natin na may mga hamon sa ating kakayahan at kahandaang ipatupad ito,” said Gatchalian, who also chairs the Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, in a statement on Sunday.

[Translation: Although the mother tongue policy in the K to 12 program has a good intention, we saw that there are challenges in our capacity and preparedness to implement it.]

The senator said that there are challenges that need to be addressed in using the local mother tongue as the medium of instruction, such as the lack of textbooks written in it and inadequate teacher training.

Under the present curriculum, the local mother tongues of students are used as the language of instruction in Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 3.

"Children learn better and faster in a language that they can understand. This, in effect, boosts their self-esteem making them enjoy school more," said Gatchalian.

But Gatchalian noted the “dismal” performance of Filipino students in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment, wherein the country ranked the lowest in reading comprehension and second lowest in science and mathematics among 79 countries.

“Kaya ang kailangan dito ay isang masusing pag-aaral upang malaman natin kung paano ba natin matutugunan ang mga kakulangan ng naturang programa,” said Gatchalian.

[Translation: That’s why we need to carefully review it so that we can identify how we can address the deficiencies in the program.]