English is medium of instruction soon
The Philippine Star
By Jess Diaz
English could soon become the principal medium of instruction in all schools.
The House committee on education has endorsed a bill changing the present
bilingual policy in schools and requiring that English be the principal medium
of instruction, from grade school to the tertiary level.
The only exception would be when Filipino is taught as a subject.
English would also be promoted as the medium of interaction among pupils
Bill 2894, principally authored by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, has been endorsed
by 137 or a majority of the 236 members of the House of Representatives.
Gullas said yesterday President Arroyo has also agreed to support the measure.
"In fact, she is making it part of the legislative agenda that she would
recommend to Congress for its second regular session, which starts in July," he
He said there is a need to make English the principal medium of instruction
again in all schools "because we have been losing our competitive edge in
English proficiency to neighboring countries, including China, which used to
abhor the English language."
"Even our graduates who are recruited by call centers have to be retrained so
they will become fluent in English. I know, since there are many of these
centers in Cebu," he said.
Gullas comes from a family of educators who own the University of the Visayas in
He recalled that English had been the medium of instruction until 1974 when the
bilingual policy requiring the use of both English and Filipino was introduced.
"As a result of this policy, the learning of the English language suffered a
setback. One reason is what linguists call language interference. Targeting the
learning of two languages (English and Pilipino, actually Tagalog) is too much
for Filipino learners, especially in lower grades. And if the child happens to
be a non-Tagalog speaker, this actually means learning two foreign languages at
the same time, an almost impossible task," he said.
He said the difficulty faced by the Filipino student in learning two languages
at the same time could be one of the reasons why Filipinos lag behind their
neighbors in science and mathematics.
He noted that books in these disciplines are written in English.
If the student cannot comprehend what is written in English, then learning
science and mathematics and other disciplines becomes a tremendously difficult
undertaking, he stressed.
In a related development, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. reminded the
Department of Education yesterday of a provision in the 2005 budget law
requiring that textbooks that public schools would purchase should withstand
five years of use.
"Not only should textbooks be guaranteed for their contents
but the quality of the paper used in printing them must meet standards, too," he
He said Congress had included in the 2005 budget a provision requiring
that books be printed on sturdy paper to save on government funds.
"Given the state of our finances, we cannot afford books that get torn or
deteriorate quickly," he said.
The education department has P810 million this year for new textbooks. — Jess