My blogging has been long interrupted due to many demands at work including our busy schedule in creating awareness and organizing training for MTBMLE. Now we can pause and rest a bit since MTBMLE has been mainstreamed at least at the basic education sector. The next task is to work with higher education institutions.
When I joined the advocacy late 2008, most of the people thought that the possibility of changing the policy for medium of instruction would be quite remote. Some even gave us that funny look thinking that MTBMLE is like going back to the dark ages. Thankfully, MTBMLE became a major policy through DepEd Order 74 s 2009 and later was integrated in the K-12 framework. But we're not completely happy yet because presently the new order is to use mother tongue only up to grade 3 (an early exit which studies show to yield weak long term results). We hope that the K-12 bill would support for a late exit (studies like Thomas and Collier's proved that for maximum results for literacy and cognitive development, exposure to MT should be at 6 to 8 years) or at least a flexibility clause to allow the use of MT as long as it is needed and desired.
Aside from the cognitive benefits of a late exit, there are many pupils who reach high school and still lack adequate literacy skills. The MT in this case would be useful as a bridge language. There will also be pupils who would want to continue reading and writing in the mother tongue. Many of them will become writers of local newspapers, commentators of local radio stations and teachers who will use MTBMLE for classroom instruction and materials development. And so MT literacy up to grade three would be inadequate. Our local languages should also be continually enriched as an academic discourse. They are part of our tawid from our ancestors.
We're not also fully happy because DepEd Order 16 s. 2012 has provided funding support only for the so called major languages and there's no any provision for the excluded languages. I was horrified to find out that not a single language in the CAR region is included while some regions received support for two of their languages. Some leaders were able to assert that their languages be included. I heard that VP Binay fought for the inclusion of Ibanag. So from eight we now have 14 languages that are being supported by DepEd. Still not a single CAR language is included in the list.
It is good that for the few CAR teachers/supervisors like Mrs. Gloria Suayan (PSDS of Bokod) and Mrs. Hermie Osting (Principal in Buguias) who attended our previous MTBMLE training and conferences are able to develop their own instructional materials funded by local sources. Other schools in CAR have no choice but to use Ilocano. I am an Ilocano but my present stand is that if there are no available materials in their local language, they should be given the option to use either Ilocano, Filipino or English, depending on their context and availability of materials.
My EDFD 221 (SocioCultural Foundation of Education) class had the opportunity to visit Bokod few weeks ago and we were encouraged to see that Mrs. Suayan was able to provide training for the schools in her district. They developed primers and instructional materials in Ibaloy, Karao and Kalanguya. She had the primers reviewed by some experts. She mentioned that it is strategic to train PSDS because they co-chair the local school board and thus have access to local funds. Besides, the PSDS are the ones tasked to provide curricular support.
The other year we visited Mrs. Osting and we saw the initial Kankana-ey big books she made. She said they added some more. My former student Manybel Calis has been doing her own study of the Ibaloy (her MT) thru the Ibaloi-ak Facebook group. She has been in touch with a local Ibaloi group "Makniba." It is headed by Dr. Morr Tadeo Pungayan a known scholar of Ibaloi Culture. The group dreams of putting up an Ibaloy Academy but lacks support to fulfill such dream. Dr. Pungayan teaches Ibaloy course at SLU but only when there are at least five enrollees.
Of course, I should not miss the pioneers of MTBMLE in the north and in the country -- the teachers in Lubuagan, Kalinga. Before MTBMLE was pilot-tested in several schools, Lubuagan was our main destination for our EDFD 221 class fieldtrip. It was there where we saw how pupils come alive when their language is used inside the classroom.
I suppose the cause for MTBMLE for Cordillera should be led by universities in the north like BSU, UP Baguio and SLU. Last summer I met a feisty Kankana-ey SLU professor, Jane Larter. Thru her leadership, a one-month MTBMLE training was held last April at SLU. It was co-organized by SLU, SIL and 170+Talaytayan MLE. Our salute to our MTBMLE advocates and leaders in CAR.
|a grade 1 teacher teaching in Karao|
|Colors in Ibaloy; made by a teacher at Ambangeg Elem Scl|
|A Lubuagan teacher reads a big book she made|
|A Kankana-ey pupil in Buguias reading a big book in her mother tongue|