Posted by: luvin | January 14, 2009

Our National Language

Filipino’s english proficiency is in decline, a competitive advantage that we have to protect if we are hoping to compete in the global arena. Another discipline that also needs a lot of catch up work is in the field of math and science, which ironically uses english as means of communication (of course it uses mathemathical language, but that is at least universal).

Along this line, Rep. Gullas of Cebu proposes measures that would help in stop the decline in our english proficiency. Cebu, as we all know has never been supportive of the use of tagalog as a means of communication which is to be adapted by the filipino people. English proficiency is very much the ace that is needed in call center and other BPO industry.  The reason for protecting it is apparent because BPO’s are earning dollars for us, and filipinos don’t have to go abroad to earn it, and our stuggling economy needs it very badly.

But we should also pay equal attention to our math and science proficiency if we are entertaining even a small hope of catching up the progress that western countries have achieved. If we are to dig reasons why we are always lagging behind, one discovery that always pops out of many academic researches is our dismal skill in math and sciences. Japan, Korea, and even China ivested so much on these discipline before they reached the level they are now exploiting. They could compete with america heads on because they have the resources, specially the highly skilled and specially trained human resources.(Scientific researches, and mathematics practicioneers). 

The catch is that they did their astounding scientific improvement using their native languages. Philippines on the other hand assumed early that because of their english proficiency, filipinos could learn math and science in english. Our performance in the math olimpiads, in the TIMMS study proved us wrong.

These facts have place us in an uncomfortable position. And one reason for this is our confusion as to what is our national language. Which one really should be considered as our national language. That debate has been ongoing for so long, but do we really need to identify one? Cebu will always insist that cebuano is the predominantly used native language in the country, and I believe so, even if my natural tounge is ilongo. Many towns in Visayas and Mindanao are using cebuano as their language, although ilongo is challenging that superiority. Tagalog is obviously a far third, this despite the promotion it gets with the help of national television and numerous radio stations using tagalog as their medium of communication.

So where do this confusion places us? We need to improve our english proficiency so that we could be competitive in the global market, specially in the BPO industry, but we have to strengthen our math and science which should rely on our native language to make learning more efficient and effective. In our archipelagic country, I think we should regionalize our education approach. We should stop insisting of making tagalog as our national language.

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