Cebu governor pushes for ‘English only’ policy in the province’s public schools

In what she characterized as a bid to bolster pupils’ performance after Filipino students’ dismal rankings in a recent global assessment exam, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has said she wants all basic subjects to be taught in English in public schools in the Cebu.

“Lowest in reading comprehension, science and math? Aren’t these what we are supposed to learn in school?” Garcia said in a press conference in Cebu on Tuesday. She pinned the blame for the poor outcomes on the bilingual education in the province, which teaches the curriculum in both Cebuano and Filipino, Rappler reported.

Read: No Pinoy Pride Here: Filipino teens get lowest scores in global student assessment exam

“I think DepEd [Department of Education] is creating a confused batch of students here. We have mother tongue [in the lower grade classes], and then in the higher grades, they speak Filipino,” she added.

Results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which came out early this month, found the country’s 15-year-old students scored lowest in reading comprehension, and had the second lowest scores in science and math, barely edging out the Dominican Republic.

In response to the low rankings, Garcia declared that all public schools in Cebu province would use English as the main language of instruction, instead of the native Cebuano, starting in school year 2020. She added that on Friday, a Cebu Provincial School Board passed a resolution imposing this.

“Unless and until we are stopped [by a court], that is what we are implementing,” Garcia insisted. However, DepEd Central Visayas officer in charge Salustiano Jimenez maintained yesterday that neither the provincial government nor the local school board has the power to make changes to curriculum, Cebu Daily News reports.

According to SunStar Cebu, Jimenez said that the PISA rankings had many underlying causes, including the way the test was administered, and claimed that one of the reasons students might have scored poorly was first-time jitters.

“It was the first time we joined. Perhaps our confidence level when we took the exam was not that high. It was a different examination, and our children are not used to the kind of examination that is computer aided,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Jimenez also pointed out that only two schools in Cebu City were among the participants of the exam. One school, due to its lack of computer equipment, had to borrow equipment from other schools so its students could participate, he said.

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