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The Philippines institutionalizes mother tongue-based multilingual education

The Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) issued Order No.74 on 14 July 2009, institutionalizing mother tongue-based multilingual education in formal education.

The integration of multilingual education (MLE) will extend to pre-school and to the Alternative Learning System. 

“Education that begins in the language of the learners has far more positive effects in our school children,” said Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

According to information issued by the country’s DepEd, studies show that children learn best when instruction at the primary level is in their first language, or mother tongue. Research also reveals that a child is more comfortable learning in the primary language. This allows for better conceptualization and deeper thinking.

The DepEd will continue teacher training in mother tongue-based multilingual education, so that teachers will acquire a clearer understanding of the principles, practices, roles and responsibilities needed for the successful implementation of mother tongue-based multilingual education.
An MLE Framework has been prepared for teachers, school managers, instructional quality assurance staff and education officials.

Among the ten fundamental requirements, the MLE framework: requires a working orthography or spelling for the chosen local language that is acceptable to stakeholders; promotes intellectualization of that language; requires the development, production and distribution of inexpensive instructional materials in the language at the school, division, and regional levels, and; gives priority on early reading and children’s literature.

MLE is the effective use of more than two languages for literacy and instruction. The Philippines’ DepEd introduced a MLE Bridging Plan to be used for reference during the first three years of MLE implementation.

The department will also collaborate with MLE specialists to incorporate an MLE certification process. Their aim is to retain the privilege of establishing MLE certification procedures to maintain quality MLE programmes.

According to UNESCO, ethnic and linguistic minority people face obstacles to access quality basic education. This leads to high illiteracy rates and a poor quality of life. It is also a threat to the survival of their language and culture.

UNESCO has a strong commitment to support mother tongue instruction and bilingual/multilingual education to improve educational quality, especially for disadvantaged groups, and to promote cultural and linguistic diversity in all societies.

Related links:

Philippines Department of Education (DepEd)
No. 74 - Institutionalizing Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education

Teacher training on mother tongue-based education

Literacy and Continuing Education - Mother Tongue Literacy