Mother tongue sets back quality education says Cordillera group

BAGUIO CITY — An education advocacy group in the Cordillera is urging the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) to probe the alleged ill effects of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) “particularly the assessment of some educators that it has set back the quality of our education by as much as two grade levels.”

The Cordillera Advocates for Real Education (CARE) also asked the council to back Baguio City Congressman Marquez Go’s proposal seeking the abolition of the mother tongue-based education from Grades 1 to 3.

The group claims that after eight school years, the MTB-MLE has failed to deliver on its promise to make the learning of new languages and of reading quicker as contained in DepEd Order No. 74, series of 2009, institutionalizing the education method.

To prove its point, CARE said that the national as well as Cordillera mean percentage scores (MPS) in English in the Grade 6 National Achievement Test (NAT) went down by 5.71 or 14.14 percent and 9.91 or 20.4 percent, respectively, when the pioneer MTB-MLE products took the test in 2018. (No NAT was held in 2019.)

The national and Cordillera losses were unprecedented, the biggest before that for the country being 5.26 and 2.99 for the Cordillera region, CARE said.

“It is telling that in 2017, when products of the old curriculum, the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) last took the NAT 6, the English MPS of CAR gained by 0.62. The national English MPS also posted an increase of 0.57 in 2017,” it stressed.

The group dared those who dispute the unusually low English scores in the examinations to show how the elementary products of the K to 12 can be at par or better than the graduates of the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) in English, given the following differences in the curricula: the BEC has 56.66 more minutes a day for English than the K to 12 Curriculum; the BEC teaches reading in English in Grade 1 while the K to 12 Curriculum starts the process only in the second semester of Grade 2; instruction in English starts in Grade 1 in the BEC and Grade 4 in the K to 12 Curriculum.

“The decline in the English performance in 2018 was the result of the marginalization of English in the curriculum occasioned by the adoption of the MTB-MLE,” the CARE added.

The CARE also cited the findings of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS):  “Starting Where the Children Are: A Process Evaluation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education Implementation” that private schools consistently outdo public schools in regional contests conducted in English as private school pupils understand the questions better.

It revealed that private schools have not adopted the MTB-MLE as they “claim that the use of English for delivering content is successful, evidenced by their consistent winning in regional competitions over public schools where English, and not the MT, is used.”

The CARE also argued that despite the fact that DepEd Order No. 74, series of 2009, claimed that children learn to read more quickly in their mother tongue and that pupils who learn to read and write in their mother tongue “learn to speak, read, and write in a second language (L2) and third language (L3) more quickly than those who are taught in a second or third language first,”  the non-reader population swelled during the implementation of the MTB-MLE.

“We in the CARE firmly believe that regions cannot just stand by and keep their silence as the central government implements unsound and injurious education programs and policies. It is thus incumbent upon our officialdom to verify allegations against the MTB-MLE and if found to be true, to take the appropriate action,” the group said. ●