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Evaluation of Mother Tongue Education Policies in Southeast Asia

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Introduction and Background of the Issue

By the time children begin school, they have begun gaining confidence in their ability to communicate meaningfully in their mother tongue. They have built a foundation of knowledge and experience through observing and interacting with peers and adults in their community. Their language skills do not serve them because their language has no place in the classroom. Instead, textbooks and teaching are in a language they neither speak nor understand. Their learning and problem-solving experiences and their knowledge of “how things work” in their own culture and social setting do not serve them because the culture of the classroom, the teachers, and the textbooks is that of the dominant society.

All over the world, there are around 7,000 languages spoken but only 300 widespread languages are spoken by majority of the people. In education, language is an essential factor because this is the medium of communication for most learning activities. Thus, the vital role that language plays in the classroom has sparked debates as to what language is to be best used. Many nations have attempted to create different language-in-education policies that would cater not only to the needs of the learners but also the demands of preserving country’s native languages.So the Philippines it is to be more if it use the mother tongue to our country. Thus, the emergence of mother tongue education has created numerous and recent research that suggest the benefits of using a learner’s mother tongue.

Statement of the Problem

The DepEd MTB-MLE policy objectives and expected outcomes are comprehensive and based on research, but the challenge arises in implementation. Similarly, this is true in other countries around the world where students‘ first languages are utilized in classrooms as part of small-scale efforts rather than national reforms. A few countries have attempted to implement national multilingual education policies but have struggled with the enormity of the task. Scholars argue that top-down approaches do not consider the contextualized nature of language in communities. Therefore, implementation of MTB-MLE in the Philippines is questioned for its feasibility as a national approach. One faulty assumption of top-down policy approaches is that the mandate will be followed simply because the order was issued. This belief was apparent in a conversation with a DepEd supervisor in February 2010 during a visit to the Philippines for predissertation research. When the supervisor was asked whether teachers and parents would support the new reform, she responded with a surprised voice, ― of course. They will just do it. It‘s an order. The centralized system in the Philippines has fostered strong power differentials between local stakeholders and government officials. This has created 6 assumptions from those at the top that individuals at the bottom will comply without question. While top-down policy approaches hold the potential for large- power and. Previous studies have pointed to the challenge encountered when mother tongue education programs confront local ideologies favoring English. This stands in contrast to the goals of MTB-MLE and creates potential for conflict to arise over its implementation. 7 Policies with high ambiguity and high conflict may require more involvement from the ground level to be sustainable and effective. In the case of MTB-MLE, very little consideration has been given to the perspectives of those at the ground level, namely teachers and parents. Rather, they are more frequently viewed as ― soldiers‘ of the system carrying out the orders given to them. Despite assumptions that the reform is being implemented in alignment with explicit policy statements, previous research has suggested that policies are interpreted and appropriated differently depending on the context. While the national MTB-MLE policy statement ( the policy) aims to integrate mother tongue instruction throughout the country, the actual implementation (the policy) likely differs across communities. This points to the importance of teachers and parents in the policy process because, in essence, their actions are the policy .Counter to the claim made above by the DepEd supervisor, they may not ― just do it when it comes to implementation.

Current Policies

They are trying to solve the problem to promote or use the MTB-MLE so they debate the mother-tongue to use.. These issues have led this present paper to investigate mother tongue-based multilingual education. The paper examined 30 different research articles and journals from developing countries of Asia and Africa with the purpose of providing an in-depth understanding of the different language-in-education policies and mother tongue-based instruction of selected countries. The study also explored the different challenges and pedagogical implications of mother tongue-based instruction to synthesize emerging issues and insights. As a result, socio-political and pedagogical issues were found, namely the devaluation of a nation’s mother tongue due to its people’s negative perspective and the poor policy planning that was pointed out by different authors. It was also notable that most of these developing communities understand the importance of English as a language of globalization. Because of these issues, incorporating both the importance of establishing mother tongue education and strengthening the English language in the educational system would be two important considerations in policy planning.

Alternative Solutions

So they suggested that they should be reserved for policies with low ambiguity and low conflict. Policies with low ambiguity are easy to interpret, and policies with low conflict have little chance of creating resistance for implementation. They compared a policy of this nature with a machine in which explicit information flows from one level to the next. He argued that top-down approaches are best suited for policies that are technical and administrative in nature. They must essentially be assured to succeed as long as the appropriate resources are allocated. The guidelines, the MTB-MLE reform in the Philippines contains high ambiguity and high conflict. In terms of ambiguity, the DepEd orders specified what should be done but offered little support for how it should be done. For example, the orders called for instruction in the mother tongue, yet government-provided resources are only available in the twelve primary regional languages. As such, it is unclear how to implement the policy in a way that aligns with the desired mother tongue approach given the lack of suitable materials. In terms of conflict, language is inherently a sensitive issue ripe with tension. This is particularly the case in today‘s world where English is a globalizing force that is associated with power and economic growth.

Policy Recommendation

As I recommend to solve this problem they need to debate if the mother-tongue are the best to use so if better they talk. The language, knowledge and experience that children bring to school form an important foundation for their learning in the classroom. The educational problem faced by many children from ethno-linguistic communities is two-fold. In the first place, some have no access to education at all. Those who do have access to school but do not speak the official language when they enter the education system find that their knowledge, experience and language — rather than serving as a foundation for learning — are treated as a disadvantage.

Summation and Conclusion

I therefore conclude that, mother tongue education initiatives in Southeast Asia have been primarily implemented through community-based pilot programs. It is unclear whether the academic outcomes identified in the research will be extended to top down policy scenarios.

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Evaluation Of Mother Tongue Education Policies In Southeast Asia. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from
“Evaluation Of Mother Tongue Education Policies In Southeast Asia.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
Evaluation Of Mother Tongue Education Policies In Southeast Asia. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Sept. 2022].
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