"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein
Showing posts with label Mother Tongue Based - Multilingual Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mother Tongue Based - Multilingual Education. Show all posts

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A British School where Pupils Speak 31 Languages

London, June 9 (IANS) A primary school in Britain has its own quality of "unity in diversity". Its pupils speak 31 different languages including Bangla and Sylheti forms of Bengali, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati and Punjabi besides English and several other European tongues.
The English Martyrs' Catholic School in Birmingham has 414 pupils, the Daily Mail reported.
Children attending the school who speak English as their first language are in a tiny minority.
The other languages include Afrikaans, Arabic -- Iraqi, Lingala, Sudanese and Yemeni forms, Czech, Dutch, Gaelic, Gurmukhi, Hindko, Jamaican Patois, Kachi, Mirpuri, Nepalese, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Somali, Spanish, Sudanese, Swiss French and Yoruba.
Mirpuri and Hindko are both from Pakistan.
Despite the challenges facing teachers, the diversity appears to have improved results at the school.
School head Evelyn Harper attributes high exam scores to the value many of the pupils' home cultures place on learning.
Last year, 91 percent of pupils achieved the benchmark level four or above in English, and 89 percent in maths.
The school sometimes uses translators, as well as a "buddy" system where new students are paired with one already at the school who has the same mother-tongue and can help them start picking up English words.
Figures obtained by the Birmingham Mail revealed that more than 120 languages are spoken across the city's schools.
Despite being a Catholic school, the majority of pupils at English Martyrs hail are from a Pakistani background.
Latest government figures show that pupils who speak English as their first language are now in the minority at more than a quarter of Birmingham schools.
Records from the Department for Education showed a majority of students at 117 of the city's 430 primary and secondary schools listed a different language as their mother tongue.
The English Martyrs school recently celebrated its centenary. It was a mainly Irish Catholic background in the 1950s and 60s. Around 11 percent of students are currently Catholic.


"....As you may know, during its last inspection in Mar-09, Ofsted inspectors judged your child’s school to be good. Schools which are performing well are now inspected less often than other schools. This usually means that good schools are inspected once in five years, whilst satisfactory schools will be inspected at least once every three years...
...I am pleased to inform you that our interim assessment shows that the school’s performance has been sustained and that we can defer its next full inspection...."

The following are the Ofsted assessment reports:

Mother Tongue

Spider’s web
Saturday, June 9, 2012
I still remember the girl (and no, don’t go singing about remembering the song but not the feeling), she’s your typical girl on the street – dusky, dark haired, toes spread apart, quiet in the company of strangers until given a push. Her name was Rochelle and she was determined to return to school.
I WOULD have scoffed at all these talks about teaching in mother tongue, and looking down on it as yet another sinker to the ever-sinking standard of education. Hey, I entered kindergarten and learned English without much difficulty, and that was even though we all spoke in Tagalog (the real one because I was learning from a Tagalog mom and our home was not yet invaded by the mangled language Dabawenyos claim as Tagalog). I was good at it, too (both English and Tagalog may I say). And yes, I am preening.
By college, I was strutting my ware, woe to the clueless moron who’d cross me, I’d slay him or her with my razor-sharp English. No one tutored me, I learned it all in the classroom, very proud young me would say. It was easy, too, and everyone should go through it the same way I did.
But of course, that was decades ago, when youth and talent was always equal to not just a hard head, but swollen as swell. (Those who cannot admit that they were never mayabang or had an air or angst in their 20s are living a lie. Haha.) The years that have passed have mellowed me down since, and slapped me with life’s lessons as well.
I still remember the girl (and no, don’t go singing about remembering the song but not the feeling), she’s your typical girl on the street – dusky, dark haired, toes spread apart, quiet in the company of strangers until given a push. Her name was Rochelle and she was determined to return to school.
To return to school, however, she has to undergo the placement examination and I volunteered to tutor her and three other street girls. Algebra, high school algebra should be easy. It wasn’t. After several days of trying to communicate, we finally were able to come to an understanding of what we were really trying to learn. In a mix of Tagalog and Bisaya with the English algebraic terms, we tackled… fractions.
Yes. The subject is algebra but you cannot proceed to algebra without first tackling numbers and addition and multiplication and division. That we even reached fraction was an algebraic problem by itself. But we did draw a lot of sticks and grouped them in different numbers. But that hurdle over, we were ready to take a sample exam. Since the first part of the Algebra placement exam had some fractions there.
I borrowed a placement exam sampler, wrote the problem on the board and gave them 15 minutes to do it. That should be easy. We were able to go to 1/16, solving problems that only involve halves and fourths should be peanuts. Not.
After ten minutes, they were still not writing on their “exam paper” although their scratch paper were already getting filled up with lines that are being encircled in different numbers and groups. Fifteen minutes past, our one-hour session rounding to a close, still not one answer. I called their attention, they looked up. Blank uncomprehending stares in their expressions. “Ate, English man ‘ni,” Rochelle said.
Indeed, like all exams, the samplers were in English and they can barely talk in English much less comprehend and analyze written English. Expectedly, no one passed.
That was a long time ago, maybe five years, maybe more. But the girls who came after them were not any better.
In a cramped classroom, would a student have the guts to tell the teacher that she cannot understand the test because it’s in English? I doubt it. At the expense of being ridiculed, many would just go through the motions of answering an exam, and failing.
How many of those students we see walking from school in their uniforms and with notebooks in hand have just failed an exam? We will never know because no one is actually counting and there is that directive for teachers not to fail anyone. Thus, student goes through the motions of answering even without understanding anything while teacher goes through the motion of passing even without imparting real understanding. Every year, they march on; year per year.
Now there’s mother tongue in the first three years of education, let’s hope it will be better because that’s all we have to hold on to, hope. The classrooms are still cramped, the teachers are still not allowed to fail, the students getting rowdier.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 10, 2012.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First Things First: A Commentary on K+12


“We call it officially ‘K to 12’ not ‘K+12’.”

This is what Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro said while explaining the department’s preference for “K to 12” to refer to DepEd’s flagship “Enhanced K to 12 Basic Education Program.”

While there are several variations of the 12-year basic education model used abroad with different names such as “K-12”, “K+12”, and “K12”, Luistro said that the DepEd Steering Committee preferred the use of “K to 12” as it “captures the fact that not all features are new.”

He said that “K+12” may “mislead people that it’s only 12 years and not a total of 13.”
The term “K-12”, on the other hand, is not also used because “it sometimes read wrongly as ‘K minus 12’,” said Luistro. (http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/358626/deped-it-s-k-to-12)

K to 12, K-12 or K+12....  What does matter? Should the public be simply debating the name of the curriculum or should we not dissect it to find its elements and weigh each one to see if these changes are indeed justified. Discussions or debates on the new curriculum have narrowly focused on the two additional years at the end of high school. The first of these two additional years will not happen until 2016. In the meantime, several elements will, this coming June. The article below examines these elements and demonstrates that most of these were not based on data.


First Things First:  A Commentary on K+12 
Published in two parts in Philippine Star:

The basic education system of thePhilippinesfaces two major problems: (1) high dropout rates in primary and secondary schools, and (2) lack of mastery of specific skills and content as reflected in poor performance in standard tests for both Grade IV and Grade VIII (2nd year high school) students. Unfortunately, the proposed K+12 curriculum does not directly address these problems. Both dropout rate and poor performance in standard exams indicate failure in the early years of education. That these problems are caused by a congested 10-year curriculum is not strongly supported by currently available data. The international standard tests take into account both years of education and basic skills.  The standard tests ensure that students from all the participating countries had the same number of years of schooling.

The proposed K plus 12 curriculum has various components. It is useful to look at each component in deciding whether it helps address the pressing problems Philippine basic education presently faces:

(1) Kindergarten: This addresses the problems. Early childhood learning when done properly does provide a head start for elementary schools. Kindergarten prepares the child emotionally, physically and mentally for grade school.

(2) No formal subject of science in K to Grade II: This is a waste of a great opportunity. Science education in early childhood is cheap. It does not require elaborate laboratories or equipment.  Young children, in addition, are naturally inquisitive and the years of kinder to grade II are excellent for introduction of basic scientific curiosity and methods. Only having science as a formal subject can ensure that science will indeed be covered.

(3) Use of mother tongue as medium of instruction: This is very expensive. It requires competent teachers who can teach math and science using the mother tongue. There is no objection that the mother tongue must be taught as a subject in elementary schools since this allows a smoother transition from home to school.  The question of what medium should be used in instruction is separate. One medium of instruction can unite the nation. English is the best option since course materials especially from the internet are usually in English. In this respect, Singapore is a good example to follow.

(4) Spiral curriculum: This type of teaching is highly applicable to elementary schools where both science and math are still treated as general approaches.  In high school, both math and science diverge into separate disciplines. A spiral curriculum in high school will require teachers with knowledge in all these areas at a sufficient level. These required teachers are not going to be available in numbers so this program will be poorly implemented. A layered curriculum, on the other hand, is easier to implement – biology is taught in one year, chemistry in the next, physics is usually the last.  In this manner, a high school can operate with a chemistry teacher, a physics teacher and a biology teacher, and each one need not be a master of all three disciplines.

(5) Discovery-based learning: This type of learning requires longer hours and fails without sufficient guidance (see “An Analysis of the Failure of Electronic Media and Discovery Based Learning”,Clark, et al. (2009)
http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/clark_etal_2009_analysis_of_the_failure_of_electronic_media.pdf). The ideal is a mix between traditional and inquiry based methods.  This is usually achieved in the sciences by having separate lecture and laboratory components.  Guidance is provided during lectures and students work on their own or as a group in the laboratory.

(6) Last but not the least (in fact, this point is crucial), the proposed K plus 12 curriculum also involves short school hours.  This seems to be an attempt to enable multiple shifts in the schools.  This goes against decongesting the curriculum. It likewise does not make it worthwhile for schoolchildren especially those who have to travel far to attend school.  This also opens opportunities for child labor as well as greater environmental (outside of school) influences on children education. Elementary schools in the US are full day so that students do have time to cover the material and, at the same time, it allows parents to work and be more productive.  A full day in school means less television, less video games, less time on the streets, and less other activities that do not contribute to a sound education of the young.

Most countries have only ten years of compulsory education. Compulsory education in the US varies from state to state, but the average requires anyone who is under 16 years of age to be either enrolled in a school or home-schooled. This means that on average, the US only has 10-11 (including kindergarten) years of compulsory education. The last two years in the US K-12 education already include courses in tertiary education. These are called advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IB) courses. Examples are calculus (up to multivariable) and AP chemistry. Students who take AP chemistry usually have already finished one year of basic chemistry and one year of advanced chemistry, so in sum, a student could have taken three years of chemistry while in high school. Some schools in the US can not offer these, and consequently, there is great heterogeneity among US schools.

Addressing basic education is a matter of prioritization. Adding kindergarten and two years to high school is estimated to cost more than 100 billion pesos.  On the other hand, to solve the two pressing problems, as UNESCO has advised, 6% of the GDP must be assigned to education. At the current funding (2.3% of GDP) of the Department of Education (DepEd), additional years will only lead to a greater demand for resources.  Adding two years to high school essentially increases the needs of a high school by 50% – teachers, classrooms, desks, toilets, learning materials, etc.  The DepEd can only answer less than half of what UNESCO deems is necessary for the 10-year basic education program. Adding two more years will stretch the budget of DepEd even further.

Implementing a new curriculum requires strong leadership at the school level. The success of a school depends a lot on the principal. A significant fraction of public schools in the Philippines currently do not have a principal or a head teacher. This clearly needs to be addressed first before any reform in curriculum is initiated. Otherwise, a new curriculum has no hope of being implemented successfully.

 Instead of trying to attack the problem at the end of high school, efforts must be focused on the early years of education. This is where the dropout rate begins to escalate and these are the years where students are failing to learn as diagnosed by the standard test scores. Resources are very much needed in the first ten years of education and kindergarten and DepEd can do a better job on these years if DepEd does not have to worry about the added senior years in high school. The government should allow its citizens to work out on their own a solution for the desired two years that aim to prepare students either for college or the workforce. College preparatory schools or community colleges can do this job and TESDA could address those who are leaning towards vocational training.

For any overwhelming policy that involves dramatic changes and budget requirements, it is important that the policy is based on good data and statistics.  The Philippines, with its financial condition, cannot afford to waste. The ten-year basic education program can work as demonstrated by a Philippine school in Qatar(see “Do Filipino schools make the grade?” http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/130893-do-filipino-schools-make-the-grade.html) The Philippine school at Doha, Qatar participated in PISA 2009 and their scores were: Science (466), Math: (461) andReading: (480). These scores place the Philippines near the average scores of participating countries.

 The problems concerning basic education that developing countries face are enormous and complex.  A few years from now, the international donor community will look at how close governments they have funded to improve education have reached the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It is highly likely that the Philippines will not meet the second item in the MDG, universal primary education:
MDG (2nd bullet under item 19):

“We resolve that…
….To ensure that, by the same date (2015), children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education.”

With regard to this goal, here are the indicators for thePhilippines: Percentage of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 5, both sexes (last updated: 09 Aug 2011): 2001 (75.3), 2002 (73.4), 2003 (72.2), 2004 (71.5), 2005 (70.4), 2006 (73.2), 2007 (75.3)
(see http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/SeriesDetail.aspx?srid=591&crid=608) Other data have been summarized, for example, in the following article in Business World:
http://www.bworldonline.com/Research/economicindicators.php?id=0498. It is understandable that the Philippine government is under tremendous pressure and it seems that a magic potion is required. However, what is lacking in most of the components proposed is a thoughtful and careful consideration of evidence and data. It is unfortunate that amidst the lack of sound evidence, although this paucity in data has been emphasized and repeated so many times in published reviews and articles, various components have been incorporated in the K+12 plan with “panacea” stamped on them.  The following paragraphs highlight specific examples.

 The mother tongue based multiple language education (MTBMLE) is one example. In 2009, the US Supreme Court issued an opinion (Horne vs.Flores) that Structured English Immersion (SEI) works better than bilingual education.  It was a narrow decision (5 against 4) so it is not a clear judgment against MTBMLE, but it sure is a clear sign that MTBMLE is not “panacea”.  Recent news from the state ofCaliforniaalso indicates that multilingual education is likewise not working well (see “English-Learning Students Far Behind Under English-Only Methods”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/english-learning-students_n_1030990.html). The world experts in MTBMLE are careful in promoting MTBMLE.  To make a strong case in favor of MTBMLE, data must show that high dropout rates are unquestionably due to using a second language as medium of instruction (Smits et al., 2008,  http://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001787/178702e.pdf&usg=AFQjCNGSnXhP_wNvmcAOpNCrDC6OZmuFhw ). I strongly recommend taking a closer look at Table A.1 of this study by Smits et al. because this
contains data pertinent to the Philippines. Specifically, the paper states: “The figures presented in columns 4 and 8 of the table give an indication of the part of the attendance differences that is due to differences in the background characteristics. For both age groups the reduction is 25 percent or more in 13 of the 22 countries. So in the majority of countries the background characteristics play a role of importance. This result provides support for hypothesis H1.” Hypothesis H1 of this paper is “The differences in educational outcomes among linguistic groups are (partly) due to socioeconomic differences and/or differences in urbanization of the place of living among the groups.” The Philippines lists 45 and 48% in columns 4 and 8, respectively. In this light, the Philippines is among the three odd countries listed that show very strong correlation between school retention and socioeconomic factors, the others are Ghana and Peru.  In Table B1, page 41 of the paper, data from the Philippines clearly suggest that the various language groups in the country do not differ from each other in a significant manner in terms of dropout rates.

Another aspect of the K+12 plan that has been promoted without scrutiny is the length of instructional hours.  This is intimately related to multiple shifts in schools.  This area, as experts have warned, is likewise characterized by scarce good data.  There are large amounts of data that contain information regarding the length of instruction and learning outcomes, but these data involve so many additional factors.  Nonetheless. amidst these complicated cases, one thing is clear: “….the amount of time spent engaged in learning tasks is related to student performance….”(Abadzi, ” Instructional Time Loss in Developing Countries: Concepts, Measurement, and Implications” World Bank Res Obs (2009) 24 (2): 267-290, http://wbro.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/2/267.full.pdf) The issue of multiple shifts is important and could be a significant factor determining learning and one that definitely warrants a careful study. I know that anecdotal instances are not of any help, but when I was in grade school, I have always wondered why the top six students from the graduating class always came from the morning shift.  In high schools, it was worse, students were placed in sections according to their past year’s performance, and the lower the section was, the later their shift was. In a school where three shifts were employed, the poorest of the learners took the late-afternoon-evening shift. Now, these are all anecdotal but these instances illustrate that these factors need to be studied carefully.

Would it satisfy the international donor community that the Philippines would embark on a heroic last minute effort?  My answer is that this question is the wrong one to ask.  The Philippine government must do what is good for its citizens.

“The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent Georgetown University.”

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Language Is More than Culture and Culture Is More than Language"

by Birgit Brock-Utne

Language is more than culture and culture is more than language. The paper discusses
especially the relationship between the language used for schooling and the content of the
learning material and of school culture itself. Often textbooks for children in developing
countries are written and published abroad in a foreign language and are adopted for use
without any modification. Sometimes one may find learning material in local languages
which is just direct translations of curriculum material made abroad, normally in excolonizing
countries and with content from a foreign culture. The paper also discusses the
model whereby the content of curriculum material is local but the language used is the excolonial
language. There are e.g. also well-known authors who write from Africa and
describing African culture but in the ex-colonial languages. The best model would be to
have learning content and texts taken from the local culture written in the local language.
This model is, however, seldom found.


The above is the abstract from a paper by Birgit Brock-Utne from the Institute for Educational Research at the University of Oslo (http://www.netreed.uio.no/conferences/conf2005/Birgits%20paper.pdf). This paper is so relevant to one of the issues Philippine basic education faces. It is an issue that has lingered for several decades. Data do not indicate that the medium of instruction plays a major role in the high dropout rate in Philippine schools. However, there is a clear need to take action to preserve and nurture the nation's diverse set of languages and culture.

This year, the DepEd's K to 12 curriculum embarks on an ambitious project of using the mother tongue as the medium of instruction for K-3:

"Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education. The mother tongue will be the medium of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3. This includes the following: Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Iloko, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, and Chabacano. Medium of instruction will be English and Filipino starting grade 4" (http://www.gov.ph/k-12/)

Twelve languages have been included as medium of instruction for the first four years of formal schooling. The Philippines is indeed blessed with a rich diversity in mother tongues. And equally true, the country is also diverse in its history and culture. Although predominantly Roman Catholic, there are other religions to which Filipinos belong. Yet, amidst all these differences, the Philippines has always been striving to become one nation,

"We should become tri-lingual as a country.
Learn English well and connect to the World.
Learn Filipino well and connect to our country.
Retain your dialect and connect to your heritage."

The languages in the Philippines, at least in the written form, are not as dramatically different from English as other languages in Asia. Most of the languages in the Philippines use Roman letters and numbers are Hindu-Arabic. This is in striking contrast to its neighbors like China, Vietnam and Thailand. Spanish colonization for hundreds of years has shaped the Philippines into a nation quite distinct from its neighbors. Nonetheless, even after hundreds of years, there still lives a unique Filipino culture, rich in tradition and heritage.

The diversity in culture and tradition is a national treasure that needs to be nurtured and preserved. Language is indeed part of culture and for this reason, the mother tongue must be part of education. The question of how the mother tongue may be used for education is separate. This question requires evaluation of how effective instruction in the mother tongue is. As Brock-Utne underscores, mother tongue instruction is so much more than just using the language. In addition, there is also the question of resources. Queena Lee-Chua, in her Inquirer article, wrote:

"....There is a lot of controversy on the medium of instruction in schools. A cursory search of the Net reveals multiple viewpoints, backed by studies big and small.

I prefer to defer to the Singaporeans, the best in the world in math and science (and excellent in English). In melting-pot Singapore, English is a required language starting from preschool. Textbooks in the major subjects are in English.

But students have to master another language, most likely their native tongue, whether Mandarin Chinese, Malay or Indian, which are taught in culture classes.

There has been a move in our country recently, backed by Unesco, among others, to use the mother tongue in the early grades. On the whole, I think this has merit, but unless good math textbooks, for example, are available in the mother tongue for preschool and first grade, then this move may be premature...."

At the end of a talk by Dr. Milwida M. Guevara, Synergeia’s President and Chief Executive Officer, years ago in a meeting sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, she noted that text that uses pizza to teach children fractions do not help much since some Filipino children have not seen pizza pies. Perhaps, it would have been more helpful to use "bibingka" (a type of rice cake from the Philippines). This is a very simple example of what Brock-Utne is saying about going beyond the language in using it as a medium of instruction. It is the best model yet it is rarely found around the world. The reason is that it requires a lot of resources to produce learning materials that not only uses the mother tongue of the pupils, but also makes use of experiences or instances that are local or familiar to the students.

I left the Philippines in 1987 but I had visited years ago and spent quite sometime in Paete, Laguna. I was amazed at how popular some of the American shows are in the Philippines. I am sure that this may not be the case for regions that are more remote, especially those which do not have electricity. Nonetheless, I would not be surprised that some Filipino children would know much more about NBA players than I do. But since I have a 5-year old son, I probably could compete with Filipino children on shows that cater to young viewers. I still know much of the trains of Sodor, their names and respective numbers.

Orasyon by Isaac V. Cagandahan, Paete Woodcarving
Photo by Manny Baldemor

The elementary schools in Paete provided me a glimpse of how culture interacts with early childhood education. Most of the teachers grew up in the same town so these individuals are very much familiar with what their young pupils had encountered or experienced at their homes. What is required then is to find a local context for math and science lessons. This is really where much effort and innovation are needed. It is not so much about the language. For example, it is a challenge to teach students the four seasons when Paete and all of the Philippines really experience only two, wet and dry. But in an internet-connected world, photos and stories could now be shared. A Paete elementary school teacher wrote:

"My co teacher's lesson in Science is about the 4 seasons and today we are lucky to see those pictures in New Jersey of Paetenians, which our pupils saw today. (Quinale Elementary School)." (http://paete.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=893)

Years ago, I also wrote the following in the same forum for Paetenians:

The true test of the science lessons (http://paete.org/forums/viewforum.php?f=12) lies in our daily lives. Paete is unique in its great presence on the internet. Both forum and the private mailing list witness lively conversations among Paetenians. Our understanding of science will be revealed by the conversations we carry. Science will touch almost every issue we need to face in the future. Our politics will reflect how much we understand science as we try to tackle the various challenges Paete is facing. Our choices will reveal the real scores. It is in the way we face issues that are relevant for the well-being of Paete, will we see our understanding of science.


Early morning in Paete, Laguna
Same as previous photo, but taken at noon

Discussions regarding air quality in Paete are important. There are economic factors that need to be considered. But more importantly, there are questions regarding health. How we address this challenge involves consideration of facts. The following science lessons provide good starting points for discussing this issue:


Waste Management

As the town of Paete embarks on a Zero Waste management, education is crucial. An understanding of how we create waste, how waste affects the environment are necessary to draw the right action. The following science lesson will be particularly helpful:



Being declared as the "Carving Capital of the Philippines" in addition to the natural beauty of Paete does pave the way for opportunities for a vibrant tourism industry. The following lessons can be helpful in understanding how we may be able to preseve the natural beauty of Paete:



Economics is important. Livelihood projects are necessary as Paete addresses issues of poverty. The mayor has recently outlined various livelihood programs. Under each of these programs, there are science lessons that are now available. These lessons may be helpful in understanding what these programs entail.

We have an on going tilapia hatchery in our river near the mouth of the lake. We have completed the seminar on tinapang tilapia. Our plan is to supply raw tilapia to the people and the Municipio will buy the tinapa from them. We will handle the packaging and marketing to major supermarkets in Metro Manila. Raw (live) tilapia would cost Php 50 / kg of 6 pcs per kilo. We can sell the tinapa (6 pcs/kg) for Php 90-100.

Science lesson(s):

Charcoal briquette production from bio waste is also one livelihood project that we are pursuing right now. At the moment, we have one set of machine ( locally manufactured at Php 90,000 / set) producing 60 kg of charcoal briquette per day. Raw materials are free, and almost unlimited i.e. water lily, coconut husk, palay husk; busil ng mais; banana leaves, etc. We are selling the briquetted charcoal at Php 20 per kg.

Science Lesson(s):

Upgraded "Bower breed" of goats will be raised at sitio Papatahan. We are planning to develop a 10 hectare area for this purpose. We will start with 20 does worth Php 10,000 each and one ram worth Php 25,000. Rate of kidding is 1-2 kids twice a year. We can sell the goats at Php 4,000 per head at 4 months old. Milk can be marketed at Php 30 per litter.

Science Lesson(s):

Because of coffee shortage in the country (according to NESTLE Phil), this is becoming a popular agri venture in Paete. About thirteen (13) hectares in sitio Macumbo and Sta. Ana are already planted with coffee. The first harvest is expected middle of next year.

Science Lesson(s):

This is a flagship project of our Municipal Dept. of Agriculture. We have idenfified 15 lanzones plantation with an average area of 1,000 sq. meters each to be rehabilitated. Prunning, scraping of barks, proper irrigation, and fertilizer application are some of the procedures for the rehabilitation program. After a year, we expect significant improvement in production. The second phase is expansion. Grafted lanzones will be distributed to upland farmers which are expected to bear fruits within 7 years as compared to 25 years starting from seeds.

Science Lesson(s):

A 4 hectare demonstration farm in sitio Macumbo is earmarked for this project. It will be a tripartite agreement between the Municipality of Paete, the private lot owner and the Eco-system Research and Development Bureau of DENR. The MOA is expected to be signed within this year. About 50 different species of bamboo (including ornamental) will be propagated in the demo farm. The bamboo will be an alternative material for wood for our handicraft industry. Batikuling, the major wood species used by our wood carvers together with other species such as "gemilina" will be cloned and planted in the 4 hectare demo farm. While waiting for these woods to mature, as a continuous source of raw material for our wood carving industry, inter cropping of high value crops such as herbal/ medicinal plants, corn, garlic, peanut etc will be part of the livelihood project of the farmers. The seminars for Bamboo setum propagation and Batikuling cloning have been conducted by ERDB last month.

Science Lesson(s):

The true test of how much science we are understanding will lie in the decisions that we make in the future. It will be evident in the conversations that we share. It will show, without any doubt, in how we live our lives.


Science education in the mother tongue should go much deeper than just using the local language. And in the same token, nurturing the mother tongue and culture is so much more than using it as a medium of instruction in early childhood education. The preservation of one's culture rests on higher education. Studies on the mother tongue (literature, traditions, culture, arts) need to be promoted in colleges and universities. There should be courses in universities that focus on the literature and culture of the various regions of the country. Higher education is the proper place to cultivate the various languages of the nation. And it is only from this environment, would the country gain enough manpower to advance a genuine mother tongue based education. It is only through scholarly work that these languages will prosper and reach the academic level. This is where the first step needs to be taken. Much of the drive towards mother tongue instruction comes from the fear that the use of a foreign language demotes the native language and culture. What will promote local language and culture is not instruction in the early years but the existence of scholars and researchers in the field. Only with expertise in the mother tongue and culture, would the Philippines have the required teachers to implement mother tongue based - multilingual education.

Teaching the students from the perspective of where they are requires considerable effort from educators. Lessons in schools need to be tailored according to the experiences at home and in the community. Paete, for example, with its tradition in the arts, can innovatively construct lessons in math and science that are related to its rich tradition in wood carving, paper mache, clog-making, paintings, music and drama. In Annandale, Virginia, there is an elementary school that currently focuses on integrating the arts into all the subjects:

"Woodburn teachers strive to integrate the fine and communicative arts into all instruction throughout the school day. We believe that arts integration enhances learning for all students, particularly visual, tactile, and kinesthetic learners, and those whose home language is not English. Using the arts to learn more traditional academic subjects provide natural connections for differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students. Music, drama, visual arts and poetry, for example, are major tools that appeal to the visual tactile, auditory and kinesthetic learners' needs.

This provides students with multiple ways to remember, transfer and apply their learning. When the arts are integrated into academic subjects, instruction is likely to be more active, hands-on, personally meaningful and vivid for students - all research-based techniques proven to increase the rate and retention of student learning. Educating students using the arts also provides a foundation for their appreciation of and participation in the arts as life-long learners."
Figure taken from http://www.fcps.edu/WoodburnES/woodburn_arts_integration.html
 The Philippine Congress should realize that mother tongue based multilingual education can not be realized by simple legislation and DepEd should not use this aspect to promote its new K to 12 curriculum. Both actions will only do harm to the country's treasured culture.

Note: To learn more about art integration please visit:



Update: UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Education in Africa has recently released a planner's guide for introducing native culture and language into education:

Figure downloaded from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002162/216270e.pdf

"For it to be useful to as many countries as possible, the guide is based on a general conceptual design. However, since the concern is to show that the introduction of African languages and cultures in education is feasible in Africa today, the guide draws inspiration from concrete cases of the African reality and, more specifically, from success stories in the area under consideration. To that end, the guide is based on a set of assumptions.

A “fictitious” country: This guide does not explicitly mention any country. However, it refers to the experiment of a multilingual basic education continuum in a country of Francophone West Africa. This continuum comprises three elements: A nursery (3 years), en elementary school (5 years), post‐primary education (4 years).

The use of African languages as media of instruction‐learning is a decision obtained in the framework law on education and its implementing orders now need to be issued.

The use of African languages as a media of instruction – learning is a constituent of a more extensive programme, that of the global reform of the education system without which the use of national languages would not have a solid basis.

The model of bilingualism adopted in this guide is additive bilingualism. Contrary to the widespread practice consisting in using African languages during the first two or three years of schooling and abandoning them immediately after to switch to a foreign language, this guide suggests the coexistence of the national African language and French throughout primary school and during the early part of the post‐primary cycle, in proportions that are well defined in the contribution of each medium to learning.

The experiment envisaged here covers a 10 year period: a primary education cycle of 6 years and 4 years of post‐primary education which generally corresponds to the junior secondary level.

Another 10 year period is spent expanding the innovation with a view to its
progressive generalization."

The pilot program, covering about 100 schools and 600 teachers and five languages, costs about US$ 11 million.


By: Modesto Sa-onoy
ONE SIGNIFICANT aspect of the K to 12 Program of the Department of Education is the use of the child’s native language during the first three years of his schooling. In our case that is Hiligaynon.
It is believed that the use of the native tongue for toddlers and children hastens understanding of concepts and the absorption of knowledge compared to English, a second language or now considered a third language because the emphasis is on Tagalog or euphemistically called Filipino but fundamentally Tagalog.
There are opponents of this program, not the least of which is the use of the native language. Some felt that the non-Tagalog children will be disadvantaged because they had to study two national languages – Tagalog and Hiligaynon while those of the Tagalog region will not be burdened by another language.
English will also be introduced gradually thus the Visayan child will be studying three language to the Tagalog’s two.
In private school, the children will also have the advantage of getting English ahead of those in the public schools so that those in the public school will again be disadvantaged. One militant group claims the use of the native tongue in public school and English in private school is anti-poor.
Anyway that is just another opinion.
We have one problem with the use of Hiligaynon. What kind of alphabet shall we use and what are the rules of grammar to guide in the formulation of sentences or the spelling of native words?
Let us take the case of tao or should it be tawo to refer to man or person. Spoken, the difference is not so perceptible but written, which is the correct spelling? If spelled astao, then the pronunciation will be different from that of tawo.
Even the commonly used word as barangay can be problematic. Is this the correct spelling as it is pronounced? Or should we use baranggay to make it right? The way we spell this word now, the pronunciation is different – ba-ra-ngay.
The problem in the use of the native Hiligaynon is that, unlike English, there is no standard dictionary or rules of grammar.
Take the case of our common way of saying, “kadto ka lang di.” Translated to English this should read “just go here.” This is grammatically wrong, but it is right when spoken as we mostly do.
What kind of reading material shall we use that has the right spelling and grammar as in the spoken language?
Has DepEd already printed this reading material for our kids or will the subjects, using Hiligaynon rely on the popularly spoken, albeit grammatically incorrectly constructed sentences and pronunciation or wrongly spelled words?
I have not seen any Hiligaynon educational material but considering the absence of a dictionary and standard rules of grammar I wonder what kind of material will be used.
There is also the problem of terminologies. Which one will prevail? Shall we say “dyip” for the passenger jeep or use the right spelling “jeep” which is also a concoction of “general purpose (gp) vehicle”?
How about “titser”? Should we continue to use this or insist on the right English “teacher”?
In arithmetic we can have a problem. Shall we use the English numbers or the Hiligaynon, “isa”, “duha”, “tatlo” and “duha ka pulo ug  (pulog) lima”?
As mandated the teacher has to use the native numbers but parents had already been using the English numbers even before the child could walk. Of course we know the “close, open, close, open” ritual for babies even in the rural areas.
It would be interesting for our local officials to take a look at the materials to be used in the lowest rung of the educational system because we could be creating more confusion and miseducation at this low level of the ladder rather than help improve the system.
Language is vital in education, that is a given, but language must be taught right. We insist on correct grammatical construction of sentences, logical presentation of thought and proper use the words to convey the right meaning.
Language, properly understood and conveyed is one of the main, if not the initial requirement for higher education. While we agree with education officials on the efficacy of native language use at the lower level there are circumstances in our case that are not present in other countries, for instance the level of development of the native language.
As I noted earlier, we do not have the approved dictionary and rules of grammar that insure that the native language that we use and teach is the right one. I can cite hundreds of differences in our language use – written and spoken that will put a lot of stress on our teachers as to which is correct.
Without an accepted dictionary or grammar what will guide the teachers?