There is a growing trend around the world to support mother tongue instruction in the early years of a child's education. In Southeast Asia, this is apparent in a rising number of educational programs that utilize this approach. However, the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia to have instituted a national policy requiring mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) in the primary school years. While studies have long supported the use of mother tongue as the language of instruction, they have primarily been conducted in community rather than national settings. As such, little is known about how a national policy for MTB-MLE can be disseminated into contextualized local environments.
This study examined how teachers and parents in one school district in the Philippines understand and enact MTB-MLE. Teachers' and parents' knowledge, beliefs, and practices were studied to identify how national language policy is appropriated at the ground level. In addition, the challenges to policy implementation were explored and analyzed. Utilizing a case study methodology, this research included focus groups, surveys, classroom observations, and individual interviews. Data were collected in June and July 2012, which was one month after the beginning of MTB-MLE implementation in the schools.
Results from this study indicated that teachers' and parents' views of MTB-MLE focused on the short-term benefits of the policy and the long-term disadvantages. While both groups were overwhelmingly satisfied with the increase in student understanding, they expressed concern about the future implications for learning in Bikol rather than in English. They overtly supported the policy in terms of complying with the requirements, yet covert resistance was observed in their words and actions. The implications of these findings revolve around the way in which language policy is managed. Rather than a top-down approach that does not consider the local context, language policy must be implemented through interactions between the top and the bottom.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. David W. Chapman. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 157 pages, appendices A-L.
Burton, Lisa Ann.
Mother tongue-based multilingual education in the Philippines: studying a top-down policy from the bottom up.
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