Return of English?

Manila Bulletin, January 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

Return of English?


(Editors note: Lack of books in English in the public school system elementary and secondary levels has caused the deterioration of the language in RP.)

ONE rainy month in the 1990s, I invited one DECS official to visit a barrio elementary school in my hometown and say hello to the teachers and schoolchildren.

The kids sat on bamboo benches facing a blackboard half-eaten by anay. The classroom had no window. In fact the school building was falling apart.

Schools without books

The principal is known to me to have descended from a family of educators. She said that four to five children took turns in borrowing and reading one book in English.

She added that during the rainy months June to October schoolchildren spent long hours walking for their turn to read the book. (And if they get sick, thats it, they dont read at all.)

This is only a partial case study of a barrio school in a capital town, some five km from the capitol building.

If we widen the coverage of this surprise visit, to include barrio schools on hillsides or at the foot of mountain ranges, education officials with big and small plans may feel suddenly sad and powerless and silently sigh at the misfortune of 18 million pupils and students in the public school system.

Lets read again our Constitution: The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels

This week Malacanang has directed education officials to return English as the primary medium of instruction .to avert the decline of English literacy to prepare our youth to be the next generation of knowledge workers.

The RP Puritans

The so-called nationalists and purists in the use of their dialect (they call a bench salumpuet) started conspiring against English in the 1930s and 1940s by imposing on the public school system a less than inferior, silly and provincial alphabet called abakada consisting of 20 letters/syllables.

They dont like the 26- or 27-letter alphabet because it is richer, longer and spoken by those who imposed their language as conquerors. The English language and alphabet took 1,500 years to develop and most English words were Germanic, Latin and French in origin, to name only the main languages.

English is now the worlds most widely known and used language.

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