Commentary

Pagtudlo 2013

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After the successful Panangisuro MTBMLE materials development workshops that the Eggie Apostol Foundation and St. Louis University held for the Department of Education’s Baguio City Schools Division last week, our initiative now swings south to Kidapawan City in Cotabato for Pagtudlo 2013, with our partners, the University of Southern Mindanao College of Education, UP Layap and of course DepEd.

The Pagtudlo conference gathers teachers, researchers, school administrators and education personnel to discuss the various aspects of K-to-12 and Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in the Philippines. It will be held from Friday, Feb. 22, to Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Grand Ficus Plaza.

Pagtudlo primarily seeks to produce prototype learning materials—as well as refine existing ones—in the K-to-12 language, arts, mathematics and  araling panlipunan. Paper presentations include topics on 1) Understanding elementary mathematical thinking, 2) Best practices or difficulties in the use of the L1 teaching mathematics, 3) Making a language primer and alphabet for beginning readers, 5) Literature development in the L1, 6) Local heroes and histories, 7) (Re)Constructing ethnicities and identities, 8) Sociocultural values and patterns of Philippine communities, and quite a few more.

I anticipate, though, that a lot of excitement will ensue from the discussions on reading and mathematics assessment, because Pauline Mangulabnan of the De La Salle University math faculty was able to invite the esteemed Prof. Yutaka Saburi of Fukui University in Japan. Dr. Saburi’s plenary lecture is titled “A Comparison of Three Curricula in Mathematics.” The University of the Philippines’ Dr. Fidel Nemenzo will also deliver a lecture on “The Beauty of Mathematics.”

In his paper titled “On A Possibility of Creating or Translating Mathematics Terminologies,” Dr. Saburi said: “Nowadays, many peoples in nonindustrialized areas are trying to speak and write mathematics in their own languages to build up their own mathematics education. One of the difficulties in those trials may be that they occasionally don’t have exactly corresponding words to Western mathematics terminologies. My suggestion … is that we should refer to terminologies from various cultures. Western mathematics terminologies are often inappropriate for beginners of mathematics learning even in the Western culture. In addition, some mathematics terminologies in non-Western cultures seem to be better in the expression of their concepts than those of Western [cultures]. If my observation is true, it seems efficient for people in nonindustrial areas to refer to those words from various cultures in creating or translating mathematics terminologies fitting to their own culture. If the suggestion is accepted as efficient, we need more complete and precise comparative linguistic study on mathematics terminologies between various cultures.”

Dr. Nemenzo’s advocacy for a stronger math education is well-known. The abstract of his lecture titled “Does Mathematics Reflect Reality” reads: “The great abstract ideas of mathematics are created by mathematicians out of sheer delight, independent of human experience. These ideas now help us predict weather and the ups and downs of stock market, understand the behavior of birds in flight, design bridges and skyscrapers, and protect financial transactions done over the Internet. Is it not puzzling that the abstract ideas of mathematics are precisely what are needed to understand and model social phenomena and the physical world?”

Saburi and Nemenzo will be joined by the multiawarded Dr. Auxencia Limjap of DLSU and Far Eastern University, Dr. Carlene Arceo and Dr. Francisco Datar, Dr. Soledad Ulep of the National Institute for Science and Math Education, CED-USM’s Dr. Leorence Tandog  and Rosemarievic Villena-Diaz, dean of Philippine Normal University’s College of Science.

Participants will also be thrilled to know that local hero Mac Cenen Milan will be sharing his experience in advocating quality education through, shall we say alternative—and very dramatic—ways.

Milan, or “Kuya Mac” to his friends and fans, is a teacher from DLSU with a master’s degree in media literacy. He does his advocacy work through Pray.Read.Eat.Play Inc., a nongovernment organization that helps indigenous communities in Mindanao through school and library improvement.

Milan also belongs to an elite class of athletes called “ultra marathoners.” To generate awareness and support for education, in June 2011 Milan ran an amazing 1,487 kilometers from Davao to Manila. It took him about 17 days to conquer that distance, notwithstanding Typhoon “Pablo.”

Kuya Mac recounts: “As I arrived in Manila, I got good news from our partner foundations that 20,000-60,000 books can be given to my foundation as early as March 2013 for distribution. One million trees are also ready to be planted in 2013 all over Mindanao. I [couldn’t help but] cry and be grateful.”

Assistant Education Secretary Tonisito Umali will discuss the Enhanced Basic Education Act (the new K-to-12 Law) while Dr. Butch Nolasco will lead the workshop on “How Philippine Languages Work.”

There’s still time to register for Pagtudlo. You may visit http://pagtudloconference.com for more details on both the lectures and the workshops. USM Prof. Jean Millare says that participants who have time on Feb. 25 are welcome to join a trip to Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, or Kapatagan, Davao del Sur, organized by her university.

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

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