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Last November, with a vote of 198 for and eight against, the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6643, more popularly known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012. In my previous column (Inquirer, 1/5/13), I said that this augurs well for education reform advocates and stakeholders because the Department of Education’s K-to-12 program will now be powered by an enabling law. I may have given the impression that an Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 has already been signed into law. Well, that’s not quite so, and for that I must apologize.

HB 6643 still needs to be reconciled with Senate Bill No. 3286. The Senate version was prepared by the committees on education, arts and culture, finance, and ways and means. Its authors are Senators Ralph Recto, Edgardo Angara, Loren Legarda and Franklin Drilon.

Among other things, SB 3286 provides for a “short exit” scheme wherein the learner’s first language or L1 is used only up to Grade 3, after which a learner is abruptly transitioned to English and Filipino. Unfortunately, language in education research discredits the “short exit” scheme. This considerably weakens SB 3286. On the other hand, HB 6643 appears to contain more progressive features. Among these are:

• The use of the native language of the learners for instruction, teaching materials and testing from Kindergarten to Grade 3, and a language transition plan from Grades 4 to 6, in which Filipino and English are gradually phased in until these languages can become primary modes of instruction in high school.

• The introduction of science as a separate subject in Grade 1, instead of integrating science into the language subject.

• The local adaptation of the basic curriculum to the language, culture and community values of Filipino learners.

• The devolution of responsibility in the production of local materials to the regional and division education units.

• The recognition of Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the learning medium in educating the deaf.

In the name of national development and for the sake of our young learners, we pray that through the deliberations, the Senate and the House arrive at a final version of the Enhanced Basic Education Act that consistently affirms the four pillars of learning articulated by Unesco: learning to be, to do, to know and to live together. Unesco emphasizes that “One of education’s tasks is both to teach pupils and students about human diversity and to instill in them an awareness of the similarities and interdependence of all people. From early childhood, the school should seize every opportunity to pursue this 2-pronged approach.”

Meanwhile, the education reform work continues for the Eggie Apostol Foundation. We are collaborating with St. Louis University, University of Southern Mindanao and the DepEd divisions of Baguio City and Cotabato in two events this February that will coincide with International Mother Language Day.

One is Panangisuro, a materials development workshop for the language, arts, mathematics and araling  panlipunan  subjects under the new K-to-12 curriculum.  It will be held on Feb. 8-11, 2013 at the Quezon Elementary School near the Victory Bus terminal in Baguio City. The second is Pagtudlo, a conference-workshop scheduled on Feb. 22-24, 2013 at the Grand Ficus Plaza in Kidapawan City.

The resource persons include Jocelyn Timbol-Guadalupe and David Dino S. Guadalupe for Music; Fidel Nemenzo, Leorence Tandog and Pauline Mangulabnan for Mathematics; Kiko Datar and Arnold M. Azurin for Araling Panlipunan; Jane Lartec and Felina Espique for Filipino. Multi-awarded Ilocano writers Sherma Benosa, Might Rasing, Jake Ilac, Junley Lazaga, Roy Aragon and Ariel Tabag will preside over the literature workshop. DepEd teachers—like Joel Lopez for early grade reading assessment, Ising Sabian for Total Physical Response (TPR) and the Two Track Method, and Herminia Osting for developing primers, big books and small books in the L1—have also been invited to share their pioneering MTBMLE experience.

Ms Osting, a principal at the Bangao Moreno Elementary School in Buguias town, Benguet province, has been particularly successful in developing their own reading primer in Kankanaey and more than a hundred big books, small books and charts for language and mathematics.  Some examples of the Buguias materials are “Din Singin” (The Twins) which was prepared as a teacher’s tool for developing lessons on size and shape.  It talks about the twin boys named Kitkitoy (the small one) and Dakdake (the big one), “Din Sadot ay Esek” (The Lazy Plant) which was prepared for lessons in predicting outcomes, inferring and sequencing of events, and “Da Sapatos en Stip-in” (The Shoes and the Slippers) which is being used to teach the letter S.

Pagtudlo on the other hand, has two paper-reading sessions and therefore has a call for abstracts and papers.  The abstract should not exceed 250 words and should be submitted on or before Feb. 2, 2013.

For further information about the Pagtudlo conference workshop, please contact Jean Millare at cell phone number 0915-3196218/0930- 710456 or e-mail her at jeanmillare@yahoo.com, or Arlyn Borres at (064)2482460 or e-mail her at collegeofeducation_1961@yahoo.com. For information about Panangisuro, please contact Jane K. Lartec through 0939-9237484 or e-mail enaj2911@yahoo.com or  Lucy Cruz through 0915-7622107 or e-mail lucycruz618@yahoo.com.

Butch Hernandez (butchhernandez@gmail.com) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.


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