DepEd wants a program it cannot defend maintained

By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

“ …….the usage of Mother Tongue as a medium of instruction is not the cause of the decline in the English proficiency of local students. ”

Note: This was a follow up to my letter “K-12 flawed, badly implemented?” in the March 16, 2019 Philippine Star which was also published here on March 17, 2019 where I refuted the earlier statement of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that there is nothing wrong with the K-12 program and it’s just the implementation that needs to be fixed. It was meant to provoke Gatchalian, the DepEd or any other believer in the lemon of a curriculum to come out and mix it up but the editor did not think it was worth the space. I publish it here for the same purpose.
At the drop of a hat, Department of Education (DepEd) officials, mouth general statements in favour of the K-12 program some of which verge on nonsense just like in the article “DepEd: No plan to repeal K-12” in the May 23, 2019 issue of this paper (Philippine Star). But when specific flaws in the program are pointed out, the agency clams up and pretends it has not heard anything.
Let’s take the cases of the Grade 1 to Grade 3 timeframe for the teaching and learning of reading and likewise the detrimental impact of the Mother Tongue feature of the program on the learning of English which was slammed in the letter “K-12 flawed, badly implemented?” in this space on March 16, 2019. Observing that past generations learned reading in Grade 1, I branded the new timetable stupid. I also cited that three researches conducted by Baguio City public school teachers indicated that the Mother Tongue feature of the K-12 slows down the acquisition of English reading skills and overall development in that language.
The DepEd did not react to the letter which I find strange in the case of the Mother Tongue issue because in the article “Mother tongue-based learning doesn’t affect English proficiency: DepEd” posted in the Philippine News Agency website on March 7, 2018, Undersecretary Tonisito Umali had declared that the usage of Mother Tongue as a medium of instruction is not the cause of the decline in the English proficiency of local students. He was reacting to the result of a study conducted by Hopkins International Partners which showed “that the English proficiency of college students in the Philippines is lower than the target proficiency of high school students in Thailand.”
Regarding the extended timetable for pupils to acquire reading skills, Bureau of Curriculum Development Director Jocelyn Andaya has yet to answer my email asking for the history and rationale of the DepEd’s decision to ditch the “No Read, No Move” policy for Grade1 and also for the bases for extending the time for children to learn how to read from Kindergarten to Grade 3 when for generations, Filipinos could already read in Grade 1 without benefit of Kindergarten for most. The letter was emailed on February 26, 2019 and the 15 working day period set by law for government officials to answer communications from the public had lapsed a long time ago.
So what we have here is a government agency which wants to maintain a program it cannot justify and defend in a public forum. Pity Filipino children who must get their education under a curriculum so flawed its foremost exponents would rather keep their silence in the face of attacks possibly because of the fear they would make things even worse by standing up for the program.
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