March 23, 2022 – The Department of Education (DepEd) called for increased awareness in the preservation of linguistic diversity in the 2022 International Mother Language Day celebration on February 21.

The celebration aims to start a conversation among teachers, learners, and other education stakeholders on the progress being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education and its growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and commitments to its development in public life.

“The goal of Mother Tongued-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) is to produce learners who are multi-literate, multilingual, and multicultural. Learning in our mother tongue is crucial in enhancing other skills such as critical thinking, skills to learn a second language, and literacy skills,” Education Chief Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

Spearheaded by the International Cooperation Office (ICO), in cooperation with the Office of the Undersecretary for Curriculum of Instructions (OUCI), the virtual celebration showcased video messages, testaments, and advocacy materials through a series of posts on DepEd Philippines and DepEd-ICO Facebook pages.

Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado M. San Antonio noted the importance of increasing advancement in vernacular language teaching to understand the importance of mother tongue-based education.

“Multilingual development occurs because of various influences in the digital, volitive, uncertain complex, ambiguous, diverse world when dialects and languages are endangered. We continue to propagate MTB-MLE in the schools by creating and using instructional materials on the different languages in teaching to sustain preservation efforts and suspend them from extinction,” Undersecretary San Antonio emphasized.

According to UNESCO, 40% of the global population has little or no access to education in their first language, which leads to more languages becoming extinct.

Mr. Oscar G. Casaysay, Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), commended the efforts of the Department for its national policies that encapsulates the importance of strengthening the Philippines’ mother language.

“Programs on Language can be challenging to strengthen our identity as Filipino but when plan accurately and implemented on a national level it will inculcate a strong sense of nationhood and deep respect for cultural diversity,” Casaysay said.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is the only country to have instituted a national policy (DepEd Order No. 74, series of 2009) requiring MTB-MLE in the primary school years.

“In our efforts to push literacy, we feel more challenged to review and reshape the curriculum anchored on learner-centered principles, including culture-based education that highlights mother tongue-based and multilingual teaching to promote humanity and inclusivity. We converge because of this divergence that is multilingual. We celebrate it. We commit to preserving it because this makes us truly Filipinos. This makes us uniquely global,” Usec. San Antonio ended.