COMMENT: More on HB 4701

Since the bill is pending in the Senate, Luz was suggesting to the senators to reject it because in “fact not just English, but also Sciences and Math proficiency will decline should this law pass”.  I think, Mindanawons, together with others concerned, should pitch in what they think.  I agree with Luz.

Five Points

Luz discussed five points — all supported by facts and studies — that our senators should consider seriously in their deliberation on HB 4701:

First: Use English, Pilipino and the local dialects as medium of instruction. All other Asian countries and the European use their national languages.  The real cause of “our global uncompetitiveness,” as complained of by employers, is not “poor English proficiency” but “our low productivity and the inability to deliver consistent quality”. 

Second: “UNESCO findings show that young children learn how to read and acquire numeracy faster and better when taught in their mother tongue. Their achievement rates in higher-grade levels are better than those who are taught in a language other than what they speak at home.”

Third: “Pupils in Grades 2 and 3 who watch ‘Sine’skwela’ (a television Science program in Pilipino) attain master-level in 50-67 percent of the concepts learned while those not exposed to the program master only 20-33 percent of the same.”

Fourth: The Department of Education policy on the medium of learning requires that “the child’s mother tongue shall be the medium of learning in Grades 1 to 3 because the 3 Rs and the fundamental Math and Science  concepts are introduced in these grade levels.  Makabayan (Social Studies) shall be taught in the mother tongue as well”.

Fifth: “Ironically”, the Gullas Bill “does not deviate from the current DepEd policy” but only “places a misleading emphasis on English as the medium of learning.  As such the young learners and their teachers will  concentrate on the language, not on Science and Math and literacy”.

Luz makes a distinction between learning concepts and learning a language. Concepts are better learned in the child’s mother tongue.  This is the same idea of Dr. Macario D. Tiu in his advocacy of Mother Tongue Education – only that his is for the use of the native language from Grades 1 through College.

Early Exposure

The fact is that concepts may be learned by visual  and sensory aides other than language. This may be seen in the school of the deaf.  This is the purpose of decking babies’ cribs with toys, of letting children play with building blocks, of exposing them to pictorial books early and, as they grow older, to electronic toys.

American parents read stories to their one-, two-, three- or four-year-old children at bedtime.  The children’s books, including simplified classics, are well illustrated.  These children learned to read early; but before they can read on their own, their minds have been shaped by the mother tongue reinforced by visual and sensory aides, toys they play with and television.

That early exposure of children to books is basic to their education is shown by children sections in their public libraries.  Video shops have special CDs for children.  I believe, this is not true just to the Americans but to the Europeans and to some Asians. 

In the Philippines, children are left on their own. When they enroll in Grade I, whether they have gone through pre-school or not, they will be taught English and basic concepts in English.  That will happen when the bilingual policy is abolished.

Science, Math

HB 4701 is intended to address the concern of leaders of our industries and others including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that we are losing our global competitiveness due to our declining efficiency in English which is perceived to be the cause of our student’s poor achievement in Science and Math.

Luz contends that the bilingual policy, teaching the basic concepts of the 3 Rs and the fundamentals of Science and Math in Pilipino and gradually transitioning to English in the higher grades, is aimed to achieve high proficiency in English and achievements in Science and Math.

For better English, he suggested: (1) better implementation of the bilingual policy; (2) more teacher training in grammar, composition, vocabulary; (3) more mechanisms and opportunities to expand English usage in schools.  May we add: Individual interest to master spoken and written English.

Objections will be raised: How can the concepts of Science and Math be taught when many terms cannot be translated in Pilipino?  The Sine’skwela science television program has the answer.  It’s a matter of teaching technique – visual aides, simplifying vocabulary to the learners’ level and other approaches.

In higher Science and Math subjects, poor efficiency in English will handicap the students.  Can they be taught in Pilipino?  Why not?  Adopt the science and math vocabulary that can’t be translated in Pilipino. All other countries teach Science and Math in their own languages.


With due respect to the House, its Committee on Education must have done careful study of the proposal and its members must have carefully deliberated on it during the plenary. The principal author, Rep. Eduardo Gullas was an educator.

But Luz’s comments could not just be brushed aside.  He used to be undersecretary of education under several secretaries.  His comments are supported by facts and studies. His warning that the bill if enacted into law “will hurt learning,” particularly English, Science and Match calls for careful re-study of the bill.

The quality of our basic education, as well as the higher, poses a grave problem.  It will be a disaster if HB 4701, the prescribed solution, will worsen rather than raise the quality.

(“Comment" is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You may e-mail your comments to patpdiaz@mindanews.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )