Long overdue! The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) memo directing the removal of Tagalog (a.k.a. “Filipino”) as a mandatory subject in the Philippines’ General Education Curriculum (GEC) effectively frees millions of Filipinos from wasting time on a dead-end field of learning. On implementation of the directive, the subject will be relegated to Grades 11 and 12 of the K-12 curriculum.
The CHED, it seems, applied the right thinking in making this move…
The CHED justified its removal of college-level Filipino by saying that the subject would be covered in Grades 11 and 12 under the new K-12 curriculum. “Hangga’t maari, pagdating mo sa college, mga major subjects na lang,” explained CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo.
[NB: Translation of Tagalog parts of the above excerpt: “As much as possible, time spent in college must be accounted for by major subjects.”]
Way back in 2000 in GRP’s infancy, I had already strongly advocated removal of Tagalog as a mandatory part of Filipinos’ education. The business case simply does not stack up. For the amount of scarce educational resources the imparting of Tagalog proficiency in the Filipino takes up, the language presents no added value to a person’s marketability in an increasingly competitive race for scarce employment. Suffice to say, most of the plum jobs are reserved for the best English communicators.
Much of the arguments against the CHED memo being fielded by various stakeholders revolve around an appeal to tradition, “national identity”, and the fate of the jobs of up to 30,000 professors who make a living teaching Tagalog.
These really are all non-issues disguised as, well, issues. With the jobs thing, it really just comes down to the same argument one would encounter if we were to replace the Philippines’ decrepit public transport infrastructure with modern public bus and train services. Hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers will lose their jobs. But the benefit as a whole over the long run will far compensate for that minor hitch. Same banana. If you want to build a new building on a piece of land, you need to detonate the old structure standing on it.
As to the cultural heritage and “national identity” thing, well, both of those can’t really be served on a banana leaf to a hungry Filipino and her eight kids. Putting that in Tagalog will make that simple concept resonate more strongly:
Di yan nakakain.
There you go, Tagalog has its uses — mainly when one is communicating with other Tagalog speakers. The thing is, most of the people who comprise the organisations and entities that control the capital Filipinos are desperately dependent on for their daily bread aren’t Tagalog speakers. So the fate of Tagalog as a resource-guzzling part of the Philippines’ education system can be decided using simple business sense. The numbers simply don’t stack up.
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