Promoting Multilingualism in Philippine K-12 Education: House Minority Leader Advocates for Foreign Language Integration
Philippine House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan Advocates for Multilingual Education in K-12 Curriculum
House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan has expressed his desire for Philippine schools to foster multilingualism among students by incorporating foreign languages, in addition to English, into the K-12 curriculum. As the representative of the Pagtibayin at Palaguin ang Pangkabuhayang Pilipino (4Ps) party-list, Libanan has called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to inspire a love for foreign languages in Filipino youth, similar to the linguistic abilities of national hero Jose Rizal.
Libanan introduced House Resolution No. 910, which proposes the integration of foreign language studies beyond English into the basic education curriculum as the K-12 program undergoes a review. In her 2023 Basic Education Report, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte mentioned plans to revise and enhance the K-12 program with the goal of creating competent, job-ready lifelong learners.
Libanan stated that the traditional school system has taught Filipino children to admire and strive to emulate Rizal, so it’s fitting to encourage them to study foreign languages like Rizal did. The national hero was reportedly fluent in a wide array of languages, including Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Swedish.
Emphasizing the global nature of today’s workforce, Libanan noted that multilingual employees are in high demand in international labor markets. He believes that introducing young learners to foreign languages will greatly enhance their future employability in the global economy. Major corporations in the United States, China, and Japan tend to favor employees who can speak a second foreign language in addition to English.
Libanan referred to data from the Department of Migrant Workers that showed a decline in the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from 2.1 million in 2019 to around 550,000 in 2020. However, this figure rebounded to nearly 800,000 in 2021. The World Bank reported that in 2022, the Philippines received approximately $38 billion in cash remittances, making it the fourth-largest recipient of funds from OFWs.”