Friday, August 26, 2011

Medium of instruction in Philippine public schools is a fundamental issue that needs to be settled @paulfarol

Medium of instruction -- the debate on the continued use of the Tagalog dialect in Philippine public schools -- underlies optimal use of whatever assets are deployed to support effective education of Filipinos.

In his tweet, blogger Paul Farol begs to differ slightly...
@benign0 Arguing over medium of instruction is putting the cart before the horse in a situation where the cart is broken and the horse is all but dead. The child of an average Filipino cellphone subscriber goes to a public school which not only lacks classrooms, but also has only 1 comfort room which they must share with at least 200 other students -- that comfort room has one toilet bowl and one wash basin, indoor plumbing is optional. They learn lessons from a teacher in a class of as many as 100 students and they must try to learn their lessons in a room that is either too hot or damp from floods or leaking roofs. They must try to learn from books that are either outdated, misprinted, or printed with factual errors. They are taught about computers using a well-worn CHART with a picture of a computer. They are taught chemistry and other sciences in the same way.

The child of an average Filipino cellphone subscriber is malnourished and is ridden with diseases as well as dental carries.

Indeed these are all serious problems. But the bottom line is that every new classroom and every new textbook we deploy into the public education system are assets we need to sweat.

Between the Tagalog dialect and the English language, which one returns more for every peso invested in classroom time used in its instruction?

The active ingredient in this critical decision can be encapsulated in the simple fact of the lack of a Tagalog word for the a simple concept with far-reaching implications on our ability to progress -- efficiency...
There's lots of Tagalog words for rice: 'bigas', 'kanin', 'sinaing', 'palay', etc. That's because rice is an important aspect of Filipino culture and society. The number of words in Tagalog devoted to articulating specific aspects, forms, and natures of rice reflects the importance and significance Filipinos place on it.

So what then would one conclude about the glaring absence of a Tagalog word for 'efficiency'? I think the implications of this fact are quite evident. One just needs to experience the Philippines to validate that implication.

So let us ask ourselves:

Why invest in a medium of instruction that fails at epic scales in the simple task of articulating a concept so crucial to economic and industrial achievement?


  1. Efficiency can translate to pagiging masinop or matipid. Then again, the word can be rendered in tagalog phonetics, episyente.

    Besides not having efficient in the tagalog lexicon doesn't mean it cannot be conceived or practiced.

    Anyhoo... Having seen the situation many times first hand, it's really difficult for me to agree that "investing in English" will actually pay off in a situation where it can't even be taught properly.

  2. When I cite the example of Tagalog not having a single word that captures the meaning of "efficiency", I don't mean that it it impossible to articulate the concept of "efficiency" in Tagalog. Arguably, you've demonstrated that it is possible (although I'd question whether your example actually did capture the essence of the concept).

    My point is that the absence of a single Tagalog word for "efficiency" illustrates that this concept is *alien* or *not native* to Pinoy culture. This points to a possible reason why doing things efficiently does not come naturally to Filipinos.

    We simply lack a *natural* ethic of efficiency in our undertakings.

  3. Is efficiency at all natural in the animal world? I think it is.


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