MANILA, Philippines--The training of public school teachers in teaching Spanish has been making headway.
The Spanish government has offered to fund a project and even offered scholarship grants to Spain for public school teachers, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said over the weekend.
Lapus said the project has been part of the ?long-term framework? to re-introduce Spanish as an elective subject in Philippine public schools.
?Our social and historical ties with Spain and the Ibero-American countries worldwide means that we can be conversant in Spanish, an international language,? Lapus said in a statement.
?This well-planned initiative will expand the knowledge of our students, broaden their horizons and give them access to resources previously unavailable due to communication barriers,? he added.
In a recent visit to Spain, Lapus met with that country?s foreign and education ministers, the rector of the University of Alcala and officials of the Instituto Cervantes to wrap up the significant details of the project.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued an order in November 2007 calling for the reintegration of Spanish into the curriculum.
In response, the Spanish government has been funding the on-going pilot teacher training program about the Spanish language, involving two months of face-to-face classes and a 10-month on-line component, Lapus said.
It has been offering scholarship grants for teachers and students who would like to study Spanish or take up a master?s degree in four top universities in Spain, he added.
In his visit to the Department of Education (DepEd) last March, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos emphasized the importance and sustainability of the project.
Aside from Spanish, DepEd envisions regional high schools for languages to offer Mandarin, French and Japanese to increase the multi-lingual options of students.
The worldwide trend is for students to be bi-lingual in major languages, according to Lapus.
?Spain is showing a special interest in the country?s heritage and the Philippines is strategically positioned to showcase the cultural diversity and language skills of its people,? he said.
?Spain?s long term commitment includes the designation of permanent education attaché in the Spanish embassy in Manila. Language centers in Spanish in teacher education institutions such as the Philippine Normal University and the DepEd training centers are contemplated,? Lapus added.
An estimated 320 million people speak Spanish as a native language around the globe today, making it the world's fourth most spoken language in terms of native speakers.
The language reached these shores with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and it remained an official language of the country despite the American occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century.
It lost its status as an official language only in 1973 during the administration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
After Marcos was toppled in 1986, the mandatory teaching of Spanish in colleges and universities was also stopped, and thus, younger generations of Filipinos have little or no knowledge of Spanish as compared to the older generations.