House of Representatives

House OKs bill halting mother tongue-based learning in kindergarten to Grade 3

Dwight de Leon

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House OKs bill halting mother tongue-based learning in kindergarten to Grade 3

LEARNING. Students attend and participate in the afternoon class at the Piñahan Elementary School in Quezon City as they return back to school after the holiday break, on January 4, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro says the passage of the bill is tantamount to punishing children for DepEd's shortcomings

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved on Monday, February 6, a bill that seeks to suspend the implementation of mother tongue as the medium of instruction in classes for kindergarten up to Grade 3 students.

House Bill No. 6717 is in response to the lack of learning materials written in the mother tongue language in schools.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill. Two abstained, while three others – all members of the left-wing Makabayan bloc – opposed the measure.

Mother tongue is the native language or communication a child learns at home.

What the bill says

The bill basically puts the brakes on a provision of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, which requires schools to use the mother tongue as medium of instruction.

“Provided that Filipino Sign Language shall remain the medium of instruction for students with pertinent disabilities, and provided further that the use of the mother tongue in schools where it is assessed to be effective shall continue,” it read.

The measure compels the Department of Education (DepEd) to work with the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino in developing teaching materials.

If the bill is enacted, the law will be automatically repealed after (1) DepEd alerts Congress about its readiness to resume the implementation of the mother tongue curriculum, and (2) Congress approves DepEd’s assessment report.


ACT Teachers Representative France Castro said the passage of the bill was tantamount to punishing children for DepEd’s shortcomings.

“The efforts of researchers, education institutions, and other who put their hard work, skills, expertise just to develop learning materials will be put to waste,” she said.

“Instead of hanging mother tongue-based learning on the balance, this should be reviewed. We should pinpoint the root of the problem, listen to the teachers and other education stakeholders, and determine short-term and medium-term solutions,” Castro added.

The bill was introduced in the House by Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, basic education committee chairman Roman Romulo, higher education panel chairman Mark Go, as well as representatives Gus Tambunting (Parañaque 2nd District) and Ria Vergara (Nueva Ecija 3rd District).

There is no counterpart bill yet in the Senate as of writing. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.