Mother Tongue policy a disaster

By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

How the Department of Education (DepEd) and other exponents of the KL-12 and Mother Tongue-Based Multi-lingual Education (MTBMLE) do not see the absurdity of defending programs in which first six years of implementation the Grade 6 National Achievement Test (NAT) performance had absorbed a brutal beating is beyond me. From 2013 to 2018, the Grade 6 NAT overall performance fell by a massive 32.10 points or by 46.16 percent of the 69.54 national average mean percentage score (MPS) in 2013. By contrast, in the six years before the K-12 and MTBMLE, the Grade 6 MPS increased by 9.60.
On the other hand, the loss in Grade 10 MPS in the last six years is minimal relatively speaking: from 51.33 in 2013 to 44.59 or by just 7.74 (15.07 percent). Pending a different but convincing explanation as to how come Grade 10 NAT performance remains relatively stable while Grade 6 NAT had plummeted in the last six years, I contend that the reason for the contrast is the fact that it will only be next year when those who experienced the MTBMLE will start taking the Grade 10 NAT.
For this column, let’s focus on the MTBLE’s likely role in the Grade 6 NAT debacle.
Principle 2 of the Guiding Principles for Teaching and Learning MTBMLE in the MTBMLE curriculum guide reads: “Students with well-developed skills in the first language have been shown to acquire additional languages more easily and fully and that in turn, have positive impact on academic achievement.” This claim of the MTBMLE on the learning of Filipino and English has been shown to be figment of imagination. From 2013 to 2017, the national average MPS for Filipino and English were slashed by a hefty 19.94 (27.60 percent) and 28.01 (41.28 percent), respectively.
In the Cordillera, from 2013 to 2018, performance in English went down by 23.80 MPS (38.21 percent) while in Filipino, the decrease was 16.13 MPS (23.42 percent). Between 2017 and 2018 alone, the Cordillera lost 9.91 MPS in English which is 20.47 percent of the 2017 score. These figures are revealing when we consider that the Cordillera was the No. 1 in Grade 6 NAT performance in 2016 and 2017. I still do not have information if CAR maintained the position in 2018 because my request for the national results of the 2018 NAT submitted through the Freedom of Information procedures on June 17, 2019 remains pending.
The challenge therefore to the DepEd and other peddlers of MTBMLE is for them to find the culprit for the national average MPS setback from 2013 to 2018 and likewise for the Filipino and English scores going the same direction up to a certain point. The explanation should cover the deteriorating English spelling and reading skills and the inability of school children to understand simple English words being attributed by classroom teachers to the usage of the Mother Tongue as medium of instruction.
It’s unfair for the DepEd and other exponents to heap the blame for the failed promise of the MTBMLE on the alleged non-acceptance of the new idea by some teachers because in the first place, has the DepEd gone on record the teachers are not yet prepared for the MTBLE in 2013? When it found out that the acceptance by teachers is hurting the program, what has it done? How many more years does the DepEd want to fix the implementation of the MTBMLE and continue with the experiment? What if the MPS overall and in the languages continue to diminish at the same rate as from 2013 meantime that the DepEd is fixing the alleged leak?
The DepEd and other MTBMLE believers should deflect criticisms by citing studies which say the MTBMLE works in other countries because that is not a guarantee that it would also take off in the country. For one, they should consider that democracy has been determined to be a key factor in the stability and success of the governance in other countries but has been found to be a double-edged knife in the Philippines. It’s time to end the failed and costly MTBLE experiment of the DepEd. If the DepEd does not care for the country’s children, it should at least save itself from further embarrassment.
Unless current DepEd officials want to preside over the complete collapse of our basic education system, they should accept that programs which occasions the loss of 32.10 points in the standardized achievement test in just six years and likewise does not prevent unprecedented increase in the ranks of non-readers in the higher grades and in high school are not good for any country. **

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