Goodbye, Filipino? National Language Stricken From College Curriculum
ILLUSTRATOR Roland Mae
In an incredible twist of irony during National Heritage Month, the Supreme Court of the Philippines on Sunday, May 26, 2019, upheld a decision it made in October 2018 declaring Filipino and Panitikan (Literature) as non-core subjects in college, meaning they are no longer required for college students.
Back in 2013, the Commission on Higher Education or CHed issued Memorandum Order No. 20 or CMO 20, declaring Filipino and Panitikan no longer core subjects. The decision drew public backlash, which resulted in the postponement of the Order’s implementation.
The Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Alliance of Defenders of the Filipino Language) claimed the Constitution states that Filipino subjects should be included in the curriculum of all levels.
But the Justices of the Supreme Court disagreed. “CMO 20 did not violate the Constitution when it merely transferred these subjects as part of the curriculum of primary and secondary education,” said the ruling.
The “transferring” being referred to in the ruling is the transferring of Filipino subjects from first year and second year college to Grades 11 and 12, which is the age equivalent of the latter before the K to 12 program was implemented.
The Supreme Court Justices also pointed out the Constitution does not specify the education levels in which Filipino and Panitikan should be taught.
Universities and Colleges Can Still Teach Filipino
The Supreme Court clarified public and private universities and colleges can still teach Filipino even if it is no longer in the curriculum.
“It does not limit the academic freedom of universities and colleges to require additional courses in Filipino, Panitikan and the Constitution in their respective curricula,” an SC explanation said.
K to 12 Curriculum has Strengthened Filipino Subject
Although the teaching of Filipino and Panitikan are no longer mandatory subjects in the General Education Curriculum of colleges and universities, the Department of Education, which regulates education from Kindergarten up to Grade 12, says the K to 12 curriculum has enhanced the Filipino subject. “Filipino and Panitikan have become more advanced in senior high school,” said Briones in 2018.