[OPINION] Part 2: Why language subjects in college are better optional

 

Part 2 of 2

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) new General Education Curriculum (GEC), which made Filipino language an optional subject in college, has been controversial.

Some groups have condemned the Supreme Court and CHED as “anti-Filipino” and “colonial-minded.”

Amid the angry cries, it is important to consider the issue from all sides, and understand why others are actually in favor of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Meanwhile, the media has a responsibility to present balanced perspectives on the issue. So far, the media has disproportionally reported on those against the Supreme Court and CHED, most of whom are connected to Filipino language departments, or groups founded in Metro Manila.

In actuality, the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold CHED’s new GEC does not only affect Filipino, but also English: both these languages are no longer required as separate subjects at the college level. Instead, it is now at the discretion of each Higher Education Institution (HEI) if they want to retain such subjects, and add other languages too.

This open policy has the following linguistic, social, and cultural advantages:

The Supreme Court’s decision means that no language is forced upon us, and all languages are open to us. It is a victory for equality and cultural empowerment of our diverse communities.

Let us be reminded that Filipino is not the only language of Filipinos. English is important to our job prospects, history, and interactions with other nationalities. And all our mother tongues are important to our cultures, identities, and local economies. We are a multilingual people. This is what makes Filipinos special, for which we should be proud. It is also what makes us locally savvy and globally competitive. According to cognitive-linguistic research, multilingual people tend to be better communicators, more adaptable, faster language learners, less forgetful, and have greater intercultural appreciation. We cannot overcome our colonial past until we embrace our diversity as a natural strength.   

By encouraging universities to teach other Philippine languages alongside Filipino, CHED has actually demonstrated a nuanced, progressive, and inclusive understanding of Filipino citizenship. This openness, coupled with innovative curricular initiatives, will simultaneously help Filipino become the heterogeneous language that the Constitution intended it to be. It will develop organically rather than by force. Meanwhile, let us rise to the challenge of developing not only Filipino but also our mother tongues.

The Supreme Court has upheld policy that is open to all languages, local and international, and can be adapted strategically to our needs and aspirations. It will empower Filipinos and our country. – Rappler.com

*Multilingual Philippines is an informal network of advocates for flexible and inclusive policies related to language and education. It is composed of educators, students, attorneys, and other members of the public from various regions, institutions, and language backgrounds. They raise awareness about the value of linguistic and cultural diversity, and the need for this diversity to be adequately represented in government policies for the benefit of all Filipinos.