MULTILINGUAL. Senator Pia Cayetano (2nd right) during the Senate hearing on the status of the mother tongue education for young learners on Wednesday (June 21, 2023), emphasizes that policymakers must prepare the youth for the future which requires being able to speak the top languages of the world. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Senator Pia Cayetano) 


Manila, Philippines – A lawmaker urged on Wednesday parents and guardians to secure their children’s future with 21st century skills which include communication, collaboration, being able to work in different environments and the ability to adapt.

Senator Pia Cayetano said to acquire these skills, learning to speak different languages would matter a lot.

During the Senate Committee on Basic Education hearing on the status of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Mother Toungue – Based Multilingual Education (MTBMLE) program, Cayetano noted that many Filipinos were able to qualify for a lot of jobs because they know how to speak the English language.

Nasa-shock ako (I am shocked) when I talk to young people. They are able to find these jobs all over the world, and they are living at home. They are with their loved ones, with their families. We’re creating jobs here at home. But their ability to do that is because of the English language,” Cayetano said in her opening statement.

“The future is speaking the top languages of the world. It could be English, Spanish, or Mandarin. Those are the top three languages. But obviously, sa English tayo hiyang (we are used to speaking English),” she added.

Since 1987, elementary schools in the country had implemented a bilingual education program utilizing the country’s two official languages — Filipino and English.

However, in 2009, the DepEd, through Department Order No. 74, series of 2009, began developing the MTBMLE Program and later in 2012, through Department Order No. 16, series of 2012, ordered the implementation of the program during the School Year 2012-2013.

The MTBMLE is education, formal or non-formal, in which the learner’s mother tongue and additional languages are used in the classroom.

With this, learners can begin their education in the language they understand best, which is their mother tongue, and develop a strong foundation in their mother language before learning additional languages.

Senator Shewrin Gatchalian, who chairs the committee delivered a privilege speech, last month citing the challenges in the implementation of the MTBMLE especially in linguistically diverse areas where many of the learners are not fluent in the language in which the textbooks are printed and in which lessons are conducted by the teachers.

Given the state of implementation of the MTBMLE and the growing concerns on its effectiveness, there have been calls either for the suspension of the provisions on the MTBMLE under Republic Act 10533, or the recalibration of the program.