Philippine Educational Reforms
Issues and Concerns
Farrah Mae C. Castro – December 2010
The former president of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation in the Philippines, Dr. Ronald Meinardus once said, “the more and better educated a people, the greater the chances of economic development.” According to him, literacy and numeracy play vital roles in any country’s growth and progress.
In the past two decades, the Philippine government has been reforming our educational system to improve the quality of our education. Numerous agencies and organizations have taken a deeper look into the pros and cons of such, but so much more is yet to be studied. In this paper, I will be zooming in on two of the most “popular” programs of this decade; INCLUSION and MULTI-LINGUAL EDUCATION.
Inclusion is a philosophical movement advocating for the education of Special Needs Children (SNC) in normal, mixed ability classes. According to Bowe (2005), inclusion would require SNCs to spend two-thirds or more of the school week in general classrooms. They need not be physically located there all of the time. Rather, they may be pulled out for or, speech/language pathology, or other related services. This is very similar to many practices. He further argues that inclusion is a reasonable approach for most students with special needs.
The Magna Carta for Disabled (Republic Act 7277) strongly supports the full participation of SNCs into the mainstream of society. Special schools and SPED centers have been put up in most major cities in the country and even in some provinces. Organizations like the PMAG (Parents Mobilization Action Group) and DSAPI (Down’s Syndrome Association of thePhilippines, Incorporated) have worked hand-in-hand to promote the well-being of SNCs. In the same way, some government organizations like the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development have also come up with their own sets of programmes and activities for SNCs.
InDavaoCity, the awareness of the society regarding the differently-abled is slowly broadening. Regular activities have been conducted for the benefit of SNCs. In turn, many schools, especially public elementary and high schools, have started accepting children with SNCs. With this “transformation” in the conventional enrollees’ admittance and the shift in the conventional special education paradigm, speculations have also risen about the schools’ and teachers’ capacity to accommodate SNCs. Teacher competencies, availability of facilities and materials, proper faculty and staff training are but some of the immediate concerns (Castro, 2005).
Teachers who are General Education graduates and have no training in Special Education may have some difficulties in addressing the needs of SNCs. Logan, et. al. (1995) says that today’s teachers grasp the importance of inclusion because they recognize its effectivity as an instructional practice. However, if the faculty does not see the value of inclusion, chiefly because of lack of training, the whole program will not be able to meet its target. Comprehensive pre-service and in-service trainings are necessary to ensure the success of inclusive education (Salend, 2001). Teachers should be provided with enough resources, intellectual and material, to help facilitate inclusion in their own classrooms.
Belcher (1995) conducted a study of teachers in general and special education and administrators who attended the New Mexico Council for Exceptional Children State Conference. They found out that 41% of the respondents agreed, and 37% strongly agreed that students with disabilities could be educated in the regular class given the proper supports and services. In-service trainings and seminars and workshops were likewise recommended by Bajenio (2004) in her study “Readiness and Performance of Regular Teachers for Inclusive Education of Visually Impaired Pupils inDavaoCity.”
In conclusion, the success of special needs children’s inclusion in the regular classrooms is difficult but achievable. Much effort must be exerted to equip the administrators, the teachers, the school and even the whole community as well, so they may all in turn provide the best and most conducive learning environment for children with special needs.
II. Multi-Lingual Education
Dep. Ed. Order No. 74 s. 2009, otherwise known as the Multi-Lingual Education Program, states that MLE is to be institutionalized in all public and private schools in the country from preschool to high school. This means that learners will be taught how to read and write in their first language or L1. Academic subjects like Mathematics, Science and Social Studies will also be introduced through the same medium. As the learners develop a firm foundation in their L1, official languages, English and Filipino, are gradually introduced as separate subjects, first orally, then in the written form.
ThePhilippinesis a multi-lingual country with more than 170 different languages. In the census conducted in 2000, Tagalog holds the biggest number of native speakers with 21.5 million, followed by Cebuano with 18.5 million. Other languages like Ilocano, Hiligaynon and Bicolano are also included in the top 5. Seven other languages also hold more than a million native speakers each (Nolasco, 2008).
This reality proves to be one of the biggest hurdles MLE has to face. In his explanatory note to House Bill No. 4701, Representative Gullas, in his explanatory note to House Bill No. 4701 (AN ACT TO STRENGTHEN AND ENHANCE THE USE OF ENGLISH AS THE MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION IN PHILIPPINE SCHOOLS) said that because of the bilingual policy, the learning of the English language suffered greatly.
He also said expecting the learners to adapt to two languages (L1 and L2) is too much to ask, especially in the lower grades. The use of Filipino, which is basically Tagalog, is not effective since learners in the Visayas andMindanaoregions have very minimal exposure to it (Nolasco, 2008). English can, then, improve and enrich our own Philippine national language and other native languages, and cultures, and not make us lose our identity as a people (Yap, 2009).
On the other hand, Dutcher in collaboration with R. Tucker (1994) reviewed the international experience on this MLE and they found out that individuals easily develop cognitive skills and master content material when they are taught in a familiar language. Walter and Dekker (2008) in their study in Lubuagan stated that classes taught in L1 fare significantly higher in composite scores in all subjects compared to those taught in L2. They further claim that these results provide evidence that mother tongue instruction does help strengthen the learning of both the English and Filipino subjects, contrary to what is claimed by the proponents of the pro-English bill.
The discussion between the choice of English or mother tongue as mode of instruction is not ending anytime soon. Both programs have their own share of pros and cons, and expectedly much debate will be ensuing in the years to come as to which is more effective and beneficial to Filipino learners. Fortunately, many educators, researchers and politicians alike are working their way into finding a solution, no matter how torturous the work may seem.
Bajeňio, Anita G. (2004). Readiness and Performance of Regular Teachers for Inclusive Education of Visually Impaired Pupils in Davao City. Master’s Thesis. University ofSoutheastern Philippines,Davao City.
Bos, C. & Vaughn, S. (2002). Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning and Behavior Problems. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Bowe, F. (2005). Making Inclusion Work. Merrill Education / Prentice Hall.
Dutcher, Nadine in collaboration with Richard Tucker. (1994). The use of first and second languages in education. A review of international experience. Pacfic Islands discussion paper series no. 1. WashingtonD.C.: The World Bank.
House of Representatives. 14th Congress. House Bill No. 305. An act to strengthen and enhance the use of English as the medium of instruction in Philippine schools. Introduced by the Hon. Eduardo Gullas.
Logan, D., Piperno, R., MacFarland, F., & Bargamian, D. (December 1994/January 1995). Educational Leadership. available at
http://www.uni.edu/coe/inclusion/philosophy/benefits.html accessed: October, 2008.
Philippine Commission on Education Reform. (2000). Philippine agenda for educational reform: the PCER report. Manila: Department of Education, Culture and Sports.
Walter, S. & Dekker, D. (2008). The Lubuagan mother tongue education experiment (FLC), a report of comparative test results. available at
http://www.sil.org/asia/philippines/lit/2008-02-27_Report_to_Congress-Lubuagan_FLC_Paper.pdf accessed: December, 2010.
Yap, F. (March 2008). Global Filipino in Multi-Lingual Education. 1st International Conference on Filipino as a Global Language held at theUniversity of Hawaii-Manoa. available at
www.scribd.com/doc/25591770/Asian-Journal-Jan-22-201 accessed: December 2010.