Two elementary pupils play while their teacher starts giving them lessons during the second day of the limited face-to-face classes at Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School in San Andres, Manila, on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The National Capital Region started its pilot run of limited face-to-face classes on Monday, Dec. 6, in selected schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. DANNY PATA

House suspends mother tongue-based learning for kinder to Grade 3

The House of Representatives on Monday has cleared a bill suspending the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction from kindergarten to Grade 3 on third and final reading.

House Bill 6717, which suspended the use of mother tongue as medium of instruction for children to address lack of learning materials on mother tongue language in schools, gathered 240 “yes” votes with only three lawmakers voting against it.

House Bill 6717 provides that such suspension will be implemented  until the Department of Education (DepEd) certifies to Congress that it has completed its books, teaching materials, and supplies to effectively implement the use of mother tongue to learners in kindergarten to Grade 3.

The bill, however, provides that the Filipino Sign Language will remain the medium of instruction for students with pertinent disabilities. It also allows the continued implementation of the mother tongue in schools where it is assessed to be effective.

Under the 2013 Enhanced Basic Education law, mother tongue or first language refers to language or languages first learned by a child, which he/she identifies with, is identified as a native language user of by others, which he/she knows best, or uses most. These include Filipino Sign language used by individuals with pertinent disabilities.

The regional or native language, on the other hand, refers to the traditional speech variety or variety of Filipino sign language existing in a region, area or place.

While the bill provides for the suspension, House Bill 6717 still mandates  DepEd to coordinate with the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) in developing books, teaching materials, and other supplies necessary in the implementation of the use of the mother tongue language.

Further, the bill states that DepEd and KWF should certify the appropriateness and capacity of all local school districts to use the mother tongue languages as mode of instruction in kindergarten to Grade 3.

House Bill 6717 also provides for its automatic repeal upon the approval of Congress of the assessment report and the certification of DepEd to Congress on the readiness of all the school districts to implement the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction for learners in kindergarten to Grade 3.

Kabataan party-list Representative Raoul Manuel, one of the three lawmakers who voted against House Bill 6717, believes such suspension of mother tongue-based learning is unnecessary.

“Naniniwala ang Kabataan na hindi kailangang itigil ang paggamit ng sariling wika na kinalakihan ng mga estudyante para sa kanilang pag-aaral para lamang matasa at masaayos ang pagpapatupad nito. Ang pagpapatuloy ng pagpapatupad nito ay mahalaga upang tuloy-tuloy na makabawi mula sa learning poverty na naranasan sa gitna ng pandemya,” said Manuel.

(The youth believes that we do not need to stop learning based on our mother tongue just because we want its implementation improved. Mother tongue-based learning is important for us to recover from learning poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) – Llanesca T. Panti/VAL, GMA Integrated News

This article House suspends mother tongue-based learning for kinder to Grade 3 was originally published in GMA News Online.

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