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By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Monday, December 16, 2019
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia discusses with the Provincial School Board the recent updates about students’ academic performance.

The Cebu Provincial School Board passed two motions on December 13 resuming the use of English as a medium of instruction and shifting the academics to the basics.

Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco, president of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines – Cebu chapter, moved for a moratorium on the use of Cebuano (mother-tongue based education) and Filipino in teaching the core subjects (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) beginning June of 2020.

She also moved for the academics to be prioritized by schools over off-campus activities.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia expressed before Department of Education (DepEd) Provincial Schools Division Supt. Marilyn Andales how she finds the dismal ranking of the Philippines in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) “embarrassing.”

Conducted every three years since 2000, PISA is one of the most famous student assessments worldwide. PISA measures the ability of 15-year-olds to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. 

But the Philippines ranked dead last of 79 participating countries.

Garcia pointed out that the excessive off-campus activities which take students’ focus away from the academics and teachers away from their regular teaching hours, as well as the confusion brought about by mediums of instruction such as Cebuano and Filipino have contributed to the “poor ranking.”

“Lowest in reading comprehension, science and math? Aren’t these what we are supposed to learn in school?” she conveyed.

“I think DepEd is creating a confused batch of students here. Nag-mother tongue, unya in the higher grades ga-Filipino,” she added.

“Atong ibalik tong English gyud ang medium of instruction because we have already been known for our English proficiency. Anyway, makakat-on ra man gyud ta’g Cebuano, be at home or from reading materials,” she stressed. “Ako bitaw I learned the mother tongue from my parents and from reading ‘Bisaya’ (magazine).”

For her part, Frasco said that focusing back on academics will in effect reduce the number of days devoted to extra-curricular activities.

It will also invoke the authority of the local school boards under the Constitution and under the Local Government Code to engage in local planning in terms of education, she added.

Garcia reiterated that Special Education Funds will be spent on academics to turn around the dismal standing of the learners. 

“I will enjoin the Provincial Board with the help of 2nd district Provincial Board Member Edsel Galeos who chairs the committee on education to create a resolution on this,” she further said.

“We will be supporting only the activities within school premises. If it has something to do with sports, then do it on Intramurals Day. Or if it has something to do with cultural activities, do it within school premises,” she elaborated.

As a champion of culture and heritage awareness, the governor shared how she looks forward to students learning Filipino cultural dances, especially during Physical Education (PE) classes.

“Ako, I learned the La Jota Moncadena during PE, inside the campus. Dili kay kanang mga sayaw karon nga mura na’g ga-striptease. Unya nalingaw ra ang maestra pud gatan-aw,” she said.

Moreover, Frasco expressed that they would rather provide incentives for on-campus activities over provincial meets and district meets.

As the DepEd has a national policy on curriculum developments, Dr. Andales said she will be report the moratorium to the regional director’s office and to the Central Office.