COVID may defer ‘English only’ policy in Cebu schools

Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - June 3, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Cebu province’s plan to establish English as the basic medium of instruction for the upcoming academic year 2020-2021 may be pushed back because of COVID-19.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, in an interview with Capitol reporters yesterday, said that she and the Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu Province Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Andales have already begun curating materials and references for the production of English-based learning materials before the pandemic blew up.

She added that they have also started looking into book publishers until all attention had been redirected to the mitigation of the coronavirus disease in the province.

“And we were really into the finalization of this-- kung mangita na ta og publisher, pila kabuok ang ipa-produce-- and then COVID struck. And karon, printing shops are just about to open na pud. So ang pag-print ani ang mosamot kadugay,” she said.

To recall, DepEd Cebu and the Cebu provincial government came to a compromise last March 2 to reinstate English as a basic medium for instructions in all public schools under the Province of Cebu. This would be so long as the province’s learners will still be able to learn the mother tongue as a separate subject.

In the agreement, the funds for the publication of the learning materials would be sourced from the province’s coffers.

This move was prompted by the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) released last year where Filipino students ranked last in reading comprehension, sciences and math.

Garcia, in the interview, stood by her belief that learning English in the formative school years will enable students to become globally competitive.

“I am still very much of the position that we should stick to English as the medium of instruction insofar as the Province of Cebu is concerned. I am still of that position,” she said.

She said she plans on meeting with Andales along with the DepEd district supervisors in regard to the development of this education reform.

The governor also made her position clear that she is against online classes since not all learners in the province have their own personal computers.

She said she supports any take-home modality in the resumption of classes so long as they are not inaccessible to the “disadvantaged” students in the province.

“Ang ako lang gyud, kung unsa man ang alternative mode, it should be applicable to all. Nga, wa ba’y mabiyaan ba,” Garcia said.

“Kung magstorya ka og online, ako against kaayo ko ana og ato na i-impose didto sa mga barangay kay first of all, lisod ang internet. Ikadauha, you cannot presume nga ang mga bata duna intawn ilang kaugalingon na mga laptop, computers sa ilang balay,” she added.

She went on to say that students who do not own gadgets needed for online classes would have to spend more money in internet cafes.

“Whatever modalities to be chosen, let it be democratic ba. Nga ang mga bata, dili ma disadvantaged. Ang katong mga disadvantaged, dili mapun-an ang pagka disadvantaged,” she said.

Garcia also said that she plans on coordinating with DepEd in incorporating “tried and tested” health regimens in schools.

She said that the Cebu provincial government would be willing to spend for doable plans agreed upon during her meeting with DepEd.  KQD (FREEMAN)

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