Mother tongue-based learning still facing countrywide obstacles - Gatchalian | Inquirer News

Mother tongue-based learning still facing countrywide obstacles – Gatchalian

/ 05:23 PM June 21, 2023

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday admitted that there is still a huge gap between the concepts of mother tongue learning and its implementation in schools nationwide. 

Senator Win Gatchalian leads an inquiry into implementing the MTB-MLE program and noted its complexity in applying the mother tongue in schools. (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian admitted that mother tongue teaching is conceptually far from being fully adopted in schools nationwide.

In an ambush interview following a Senate hearing Wednesday on the status of mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE), Gatchalian revealed four options under consideration:

  1. to remove the mother tongue as a medium of instruction
  2. altogether, remove the subject
  3. remove both
  4. give the Department of Education (DepEd) the flexibility to determine what should be utilized

“Based on the hearing, there are really many problems, especially with the implementation. We don’t have a recommendation yet because this is still a work in progress,” said Gatchalian in a mix of English and Filipino.


Gatchalian cited Philippine Statistics Authority data, stating that out of 240 languages in the Philippines, only 19 are taught in schools.

These languages are as follows: Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Iloko, Bikol, Ybanag, Sinugbuanong Binisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray, Bahasa Sug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, Cahavacano, Ivatan, Sambal, Akianon, Kinaray-a, Yakan, and Sinugaonon.

The country initially implemented MTBMLE in the School Year 2012-2013. With this in place, learners under Kindergarten and those in the first three years of elementary education must study using regional or native languages.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian pointed out that among the challenges in implementing MTBMLE is choosing which language to utilize.

“Ang ginagawa ng teachers natin, kung ano lang 19 languages, ito lang ‘yung [gagamitin]. May mga batang di marunong mag Ilokano — halimbawa sa CAR – there are [various] languages in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR),” Gatchalian said.

(Our teachers have decided only to use the predetermined 19 languages. Some children do not know Ilocano – for example, in CAR, where various languages are spoken.)


In a separate position paper, DepEd CAR pushed for suspending the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction, saying it is not feasible to implement due to the lack of teaching materials and diverse variations of mother tongues in the region.


Gatchalian alarmed most PH schools not ready for mother tongue-based learning

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Scrapping MTB-MLE policy will not address learning crisis

TAGS: DepEd, Education, Learning, mother tongue, Sherwin Gatchalian

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