Thursday, January 26, 2006

* From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin B. Beltran
Reference : Rep. Crispin Beltran (+63)927.871.1080
Lisa C. Ito, Public Information Officer (+63)927.796.7006
Tel. # (+632) 931-6615 Email:
*News Release: **January 27, 2006. *
*Creating a generation of "American parrots", Rep. Beltran says *
*Solon says calls to reinstate English as main medium of instruction will sacrifice quality of Philippine education over short-term goals *

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today reacted to the Trade Union Congress of
the Philippines' (TUCP) backing of the Department of Labor and Employment's
(DOLE) proposal to reinstate English as the medium of instruction in all
school levels, saying that "while it's alright for us Filipinos to learn and
be proficient in English, in addition to our native languages, to suggest
that English be institutionalized as the primary medium of instruction at *
all* school levels is a dangerous educational gamble."

"The TUCP, DOLE and other business groups are lobbying for the primacy of
English instruction because this will supposedly help RP clinch deals with
foreign financial services and call center companies that are currently
choosing between the Philippines or India as a possible base site for their
back-office operations. But this will have severe drawbacks on the quality
of education we aspire for our children," he said.

Beltran said that "although this is an easy way for the government to make a
quick buck, the "English First or Only" policy will do nothing to improve
our children's minds. We are sacrificing the long-term development of our
children for economic exigency. The level of English proficiency here not
the major reason for the country's unemployment and economic hardship, but
the depression of the economy due to foreign plunder and pro-foreign and
anti-people policies," the activist solon added.

Beltran warned that "privileging English as a main means of educational
instruction will reinforce the historical colonial practice of treating our
native tongues as a second language". "It is a retrogressive measure that
harks back to the American colonial education system," he said.

"This policy proposal will have a negative and long-term effect on the
critical thinking of millions of Filipino children. Many literacy studies
and investigations conclude that the best way to teach a second language is
by enabling the students to master their mother tongue or native language to
the point of critical thinking; these skills can then be transferred to the
second language," he said.

"For the majority of Filipino children who have grown up immersed in the
native language at home and in their communities, the sudden switch to a
foreign language such as English in a formal school environment at a time
when they are still learning basic concepts and critical thinking skills
will only muddle and impede the entire learning process. Add to these the
fact that our educational system has considerably deteriorated to the
chronic budget cuts for public and community schools. Just because citizens
from comparatively rich countries such as South Korea want to learn English
here doesn't necessarily mean that learning English will translate into
economic salvation for us. Remember that many highly-developed and
economically-advanced countries around the world, such as Japan and China,
still emphasize educational instruction in their mother or native tongues
before proceeding with initiatives to learn foreign languages such as
English. Economic growth for these countries did not begin with learning
English, but with building a strong domestic economy and national industries
first and foremost," he noted.

"Instead, we should direct our efforts towards promoting a national and mass
culture that will hone the critical thinking skills of our citizens. We
should train our labor force to be productive and active shapers of society,
not merely as appendages to foreign demands," he said.

"Otherwise, we will just be creating another generation of American
parrots," Beltran ended. ###


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