Group lauds bill mandating use of English in schools

By AUREL LARABASTER, Contributor

TAGUM City, Davao del Norte–The Davao del Norte Association of Private Schools (DNAPS) on Wednesday expressed support on the passage of the bill that seeks to reinforce the use of English language as the medium of instruction in all schools as they claimed that HB 1339 will enhance the level of proficiency in using English as the main language of curricular instruction.

“English is the linguistic engine that drives the global economy and we want that our students will be given all the resources in schools to improve their level of proficiency in using English as the main language of instruction in schools,” English Coordinator Gloria M. Madulara said in an interview.

Madulara said that “our country’s biggest competitive advantage in the global job market is the proficiency of our skilled workers in the English language.” This advantage, however, Madulara noted is fast being eroded by rising competition from other countries coupled with declining mastery of the English language in basic educational institutions.

The language coordinator added “with the passage of bill, it will be beneficial in our efforts to promote the use of English and improve students’ efficiency in using the same.” She emphasized that global market want people that have not only international experience and good qualifications but also high proficiency in spoken and written English.

House Bill 1339 was filed by Cebu 1st district Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. The bill mandates English, Filipino or the native language as teaching language in all subjects from kindergarten to Grade 3. But the bill wants English to be the medium of instruction starting in grades 4 to 10 and in junior and senior high school. The bill also categorically requires the use of English as the language of assessment in all government examinations, and in entrance tests in public schools.

But Diocel Baura, an elementary English teacher, expressed reservations on the passage of the said bill, saying that it departs from the current Department of Education (DepEd) policy provided by DepEd Order 3, series of 2012 which mandates the usage of mother tongue-based instruction in grades 1-3.

“How can the school implement two contradicting policies which promote the usage of dialects and language at the same time? We cannot serve two masters at the same time,” stressed Baura.

Baura, however, expressed confidence that once English will be institutionalized in schools, students could easily comprehend and grasp curricular instructions in various disciplines such as in Math and Science subjects.

Baura also cited that poor quality textbooks and lack of trainings on language development for teachers and due to congested curriculum are the obvious problems why students’ got low in terms of proficiency.

Meanwhile, Pastor Elias Cabagunay, DNAPS President, urged the government to increase budget for education, citing that budgetary constraints and lack of proper infrastructure in the country’s educational system contribute to the declining educational proficiency of the students.

“We always welcome any development in aid of legislations or national policies that aims to improve our educational system and we hope that the passage of this bill will boost our confidence to produce globally competitive students who could be at par with the global standards,” said Cabagunay. AUREL LARABASTER

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