The recent news report, "K to 12 challenge in Viscaya: Teach kids in 16 dialects" (PDI, 6/29/2012) is one other reason -- among too many -- why the DEPED's much ballyhooed K +12 program may end up kaput. If this specific problem is true in Viscaya, isn't it equally a headache in practically most other regions?
As things are, part of the program is the Mother-Tongue Based, Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE) which mandates the use of the pupils' mother tongue or regional dialect as the medium of instruction from the kindergarten to Grade III in the public schools.
The MTB-MLE is allegedly based on studies that showed that children who were taught in their dialect learned better than those who were taught in their second language, which is either Filipino or English. I really do not know in which particular region the said study was conducted. For its result to be fair and conclusive, was there also a parallel study conducted in schools in the Tagalog region?
I mean, one is made to understand that, according to the study, Bicolandia children who were taught via the Bicol dialect, for example, had learned better than when they were taught in English or Pilipino. But how conclusive is the study and its findings? Does it also apply in the Tagalog region, for example. That is to say, the mother tongue is Filipino in this region, where the medium of instruction has always been Filipino in the lower grades. Has there also been a study showing that children in Bulacan, Laguna, Quezon and Batangas have generally been fast and better learners than their counterparts in the Bicol or Ilocos region? I don't think and I refuse to believe so. I think that people from the DEPED themselves will in good conscience admit the plain truth that, taking all other variables equal, our public school children in the Tagalog provinces are just generally in the same degree of learning capabilities and aptitudes as their counterparts in the non-Tagalog regions. More clearly put, Kinder-to-Grade III children in the Tagalog regions are definitely not as better prepared for Grade IV and onwards than those from any other region. To contradict this plain truth is not unlike contradicting human nature itself. If there is ever a difference, I believe it is not because of the medium of instruction per se -- maybe the quality of teachers and the like.
We from the old generation who were taught via English -- repeat, English, not Pilipino or any other dialect, for that matter -- are generally accepted or considered by many as relatively far better educated than our present day counterparts. As a matter of fact, taking other things equal, most of us are more easily qualified to work abroad than the graduates of the present schools, public or private. And, to think that even in our flag ceremonies, we sang "Land of the morning" instead of "Bayang Magiliw"! More than that, why are children in most private elementary schools where the media of instruction are Filipino and English in all regions of the archipelago generally also considered as better prepared for the higher grades than those in the public schools? It is the basic reasons for these differences, I strongly believe, that people from the DEPED should aspire to seek before launching into rather unfamiliar waters -- well, such as the MTB-MLE..
Section 7, Article XIV, of the Constitution very clearly provides that: "For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English". It seems to me that the proponents of the MTB-MLE in the K+12 program take shelter from the second paragraph of this provision which says, "The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein."
The defining word is clear: auxiliary media of instruction. But the DEPED has made the mother tongue as the main, principal or official medium of instruction from Kindergarten to Grade III in the public school without a law or legislation passed to that effect. Doesn't that border on the unconstitutional?
Finally -- and for the sake of sheer common sense -- we all know that school children of all grades and in all democratic societies since the dawn of time have always been, and must always be, provided with ample and appropriate textbooks on various subjects. Now, with the MTB-MLE program, is the government prepared to have copies of existing textbooks for Kinder-up-to-Grade III reprinted in the various regional dialects in the archipelago? If not -- as they are never able to provide ample classrooms year in and year out -- how are teachers expected to daily teach their lessons: - only through oral lectures? Or, like winning numbers in jueteng are sometimes being drawn, via voca? Alas, the DEPED must be kidding!