A sense of where we are | Inquirer Opinion

A sense of where we are

Department Order No. 74, issued in 2009, institutionalized mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) as a fundamental policy in our formal and non-formal education.

DO 74 defines MTBMLE or MLE as the “effective use of more than two languages for literacy and instruction” and affirmed the results of local and international research which showed the enormous cognitive and academic benefits that accrue to learners when taught in their L1.


To ensure success of the new policy, the historic directive recognized the critical role of the regional directors and division superintendents in its implementation and specifically ordered them:

• To formulate region-specific schemes that will bring about financial and instructional self-reliance and excellence among its schools;


• To integrate MTBMLE in all subjects and at all grade levels beginning at preschool, then adding a grade level per year;

• To authorize the use of maintenance and operating funds, school board funds and other education improvement funds for advocacy and community mobilization; development of a working orthography of the local language; MTBMLE orientation and teachers training;  developing, printing and distributing teachers’/facilitators’ guides; reading materials and other instructional materials;  development of assessment tools and evaluation and monitoring of learning outcomes; and

• To establish an MLE technical working group at the regional and division levels to facilitate planning, monitoring and evaluation.

It is apparent that the framers of DO 74 saw the need for a strong bottom-up, school-based management approach (instead of a purely top-down model) to accompany the shift in educational paradigm.

Right now, there are more than a thousand schools pioneering in MTBMLE throughout the country. Just how far and deep the new ideas and new methods of work have been practiced and mainstreamed into these schools is a matter that must be carefully summed up for the edification of those who will actually implement the new policy. This task appears to be more urgent—nay, formidable—considering that the Department of Education has decided to use the L1 as medium of instruction in all kindergarten and Grade 1 classes nationwide effective June 2012 under the new K-12 curriculum.

In brief, we have to have a sense of where we are in our MTBMLE efforts.

This is precisely what the 2nd Philippine Conference-Workshop on Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education aims to inculcate in us. This international conference will be held on Feb. 16-18, 2012 at the Punta Villa Resort, Iloilo City, with the theme “Education for All and MTBMLE, 2015 and Beyond.”


This event will be an excellent opportunity for MTBMLE school teachers to share their best teaching practices, prototype lesson plans, learning materials and model curricula to a larger audience.

The keynote speakers are international literacy consultant Dr. Kimmo Kosonen and our very own Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo.

Kosonen holds a PhD in education and specializes in basic education in low-income countries.  He has served as an MLE consultant for Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (Seameo), Unesco and Unicef. He speaks Finnish, English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Thai. He is currently a lecturer and researcher in Payap University in Thailand.

Representative Gunigundo sponsored the first mother tongue education and literacy bill in the House of Representatives and has been instrumental in pushing for MTBMLE teacher training, materials development and curriculum activities in six pioneer schools in his district. Teachers from his district will be sharing their technology at the conference.

Key topics for plenary sessions and seminar-workshops include (1) Developing an L1 Pre-Primer, Primer and L2 Transition Primer; (2) An MTBMLE-Adapted Kinder Curriculum with a Thematic Approach: A Public School Setting; (3) MTBMLE Curriculum Guides in all Subject Areas;  and (4) Teaching Math using Manipulatives and Indigenized Materials.

Also, local and international scholars will present their studies on the distinct features of Philippine languages, orthography-making, emergent literacy, L1 programs here and abroad, Math, Science, Music and Arts education in the L1, world Englishes, Deaf education, and corpus-based and computer assisted studies on language.

Collaborating in this conference-workshop are the 170+ Talaytayan MLE Inc., the DepEd, the West Visayas State University, SIL International, Save the Children, Translators Association of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University, NAKEM Philippines and NAKEM International, Linguistic Society of the Philippines, Philippine Deaf Resource Center, DILA and UP Layap.

Expected to participate in this activity are classroom teachers at all levels, school and university administrators, reading program coordinators, alternative education practitioners, sign language educators, local government units, linguists, researchers, book publishers and education reform advocates.

The registration fee is P4,500 inclusive of board and lodging for two and a half days, and P3,500 for those who will find their own lodging. Undergraduate students will be charged P3,000.

For more information, please visit the conference website www.mlephilippines.org or send an e-mail to [email protected], or text or call us at 0916-394-4870.

Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco is an associate professor in linguistics at UP Diliman.  He is the adviser on first language education initiatives of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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