Unjustly blaming teachers for MTB-MLE failure (Last of two parts)

By Estanislao Albano Jr.

“ It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if our learners start reading in English in Grade 1, this situation would not have developed.”

For the information of Nolasco, the DepEd has these relevant findings cited in DepEd Memorandum No. 173, series of 2019: “Low achievement levels in English, Math and Science appear to be caused by gaps in learners’ reading comprehension. This means there are many low performing learners who could not comprehend Math and Science word problems that is written in English. Hence, they were unable to demonstrate their knowledge in the content areas.” “Elementary and high school learners are still deficient in literacy skills in language and content areas, more so in reading.” It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if our learners start reading in English in Grade 1, this situation would not have developed.
The nerve of Nolasco to blame the teachers for the failure of the MTB-MLE when much of that fiasco is attributable to the delay in the English reading timetable; and up until now, despite their myriad criticisms of the way the DepEd is implementing the MTB-MLE, he and other advocates of the policy never comment on this delay, meaning they approve of it, and do not mind the resultant horrible reading literacy of our learners.
With regard to the promise of the MTB-MLE to improve the performance of the country in the TIMSS and other international assessment surveys implied in DepEd Order No. 74, series of 2009, which was resoundingly repudiated in the 2019 TIMSS, wherein the MTB-MLE products ate the dust of their counterparts in 2003, how could it be the fault of the teachers and their schools when, as stated above, it is due to the illiteracy-generating policies of the DepEd and the delayed English reading timetable in the MTB-MLE Curriculum?
Regarding the failure of the MTB-MLE to deliver on its promise to quicken the learning of new languages, the realities are the following:
First, in 2018, when the first batch of MTB-MLE products took the Grade 6 NAT, the national mean percentage score (MPS) in English went down by 5.71 or 14.14 percent, which was unprecedented, the previous record being the 5.26 or 8.89 percent setback in 2006. It is very telling that in 2017, when elementary products of the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) took the test for the last time, the English MPS gained 0.57 or 1.53 percent. (The 32 points loss in 2016 is excluded from the reckoning because the cause was extraordinary.)
Second, in its study “Starting Where the Children Are’: A Process Evaluation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education Implementation,” the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found that public school pupils have lost their competitiveness in regional contests conducted in English because private school contestants understand the questions better. Private schools spurned the MTB-MLE, and continue to use English as medium of instruction from Grade 1.
The deterioration in performance in both instances is the logical effect of the marginalization of English in the curriculum due to the adoption of the MTB-MLE as follows: daily time allotment for English subject reduced from 100 minutes to 43.33 minutes; reading in English deferred to second semester of Grade 2; and usage of English as medium of instruction deferred to Grade 4.
Given the diminution of English teaching time in the curriculum, not even the best teachers in the world could make the products of the MTB-MLE perform at par with the products of the PBE, let alone beat them in English; and so, how could Nolasco now blame “Teacher Factor” for the non-fulfillment of the MTB-MLE promise to make learning of new languages quicker?
And, how can the promise of the MTB-MLE to improve overall academic performance be achieved when, as already proven in the foregoing, the MTB-MLE Curriculum and the DepEd’s no reading cut off policy have combined to derogate the reading literacy of public school pupils? Nolasco should be reminded of the key role of reading literacy in the overall educational progress of school children. No less than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) confirmed the high correlation between reading literacy and success in other subjects (“Reading for change: Performance and engagement across countries,” OECD).
We also point out that teachers are under the control and supervision of the DepEd. Where they are led, they go. So, in the event that indeed the teachers are to blame for the failure of education program, in this case, the MTB-MLE failure to deliver; necessarily, the DepEd cannot escape responsibility as it calls the shots in the agency. That Nolasco singled out “Teacher Factor” as the lone culprit for the failure of the country’s education programs to deliver only highlights the false, unfair, and self-serving nature of his assignment of fault. With the exposure of the MTB-MLE as one of the costliest and most foolish blunders in the history of Philippine education, taking a page from the book of the DepEd, he seized on “Teacher Factor” like a drowning man would clutch at a straw.
We challenge Nolasco to prove that the pathetic and disastrous futility of the MTB-MLE is not caused by its own curriculum and by the afore-stated DepEd’s blunders and if he cannot, then he should apologize to our teachers and our teacher-training institutions for the false and undeserved attribution of blame and failure.
Our policymakers should note that Nolasco’s “Teacher Factor” alibi betrays the bankruptcy of the MTB-MLE because advocates, let alone the main articulators of a position, do not resort to cheap, childish and baseless claims if they stand on firm ground. A decision to extend the MTB-MLE at the advice of Nolasco and company, therefore, will not be based on sound reasoning and valid evidence and as such, will not be for the best interest of our children and the country. **

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