EDUCO promotes mother tongue-based education

Commemorating International Mother Tongue Day , EDUCO stresses that teaching in a pupil’s own language is fundamental for reducing educational failure.

Mikel Egibar, Head of Education at EDUCO, insists that “when a child learns in a language that is the official language in the country and not the one spoken by his or her family, educational failure is considerably higher."

Forty 40% of the world population does not have access to education in their mother tongue according to UNESCO data. This figure includes more than 221 million primary school children. Egibar explains that “when children do not study in their mother tongue, they find it harder to learn, pass exams and participate in class. This leads to a loss in confidence and a lack of self-esteem because they don’t seetheir efforts rewarded”. Given this situation, EDUCO has been developing and supporting mother tongue educational programs in countries including the Philippines.

In the Philippines more than 170 languages are spoken, but most primary school children study in English or Tagalog, the two official languages. This often results in children not understanding what is being explained in the classroom. For this reason, EDUCO works in 192 schools in the country, promoting teacher training to enable them to teach in their pupils’ languages, and the creation of educational material and books written in their language.

The Education Department’s Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) Program was first introduced in 2009. It’s currently on its second phase. While it has encountered challenges in implementation, it is improving from its first phase of implementation.

In Bicol, for example, the Mother Tongue used by the Department was Bikol-Naga. Each province in the Region—even at municipal level—uses a different variety of Bikol as a local language. Teachers had difficulty teaching in local language because they are not used to it, they hail from another municipality, and they lack the materials or references to teach in Bikol.

EDUCO in the Philippines was part of identifying and solving these challenges by supporting the creation, publication, and distribution of contextualized books. Locals were given the platform and guidance to write and illustrate stories in their own local language. Books were published, and distributed to the communities that authored them.

Many communities still need similar support. The Education Department in Bicol continues implementing MTB-MLE, learning from teachers and students. It’s also taken from EDUCO’s experience as well as from the 2016 Program assessment that Bikol—as a local language, particularly its orthography or how it is written—needs to be standardized. EDUCO continues to work with DepEd to uphold quality and transformative education in Bicol region.