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KWF seeks audience with CHED, HEIs on retaining Filipino subjects

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will seek the continuous teaching of Filipino and "Panitikan" (literature) in public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) nationwide, a staff of the agency said on Monday.

The Supreme Court (SC) upheld last month a 2013 memorandum of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), instructing the exclusion of both subjects from the general tertiary education curriculum. The CHED order is stated in Memorandum Order No. 20 series of 2013.

In an interview on Monday, KWF researcher Roy Rene Cagalingan said the language agency aims to meet with CHED and HEIs soon.

"We're hoping for a sustained implementation of CHED Memorandum 4 series of 2018," said Cagalingan, explaining that the latter memorandum enjoins all HEIs to implement, as part of their respective baccalaureate degree programs, minimum credit requirements for Filipino and “Panitikan” subjects.

Cagalingan said the KWF is trying to arrange a meeting with CHED this month, then with the HEIs after.

He said the KWF is concerned CHED might already scrap its Memorandum 4, since the high court had declared that Memorandum 20 is constitutional.

According to Cagalingan, it is important to teach Filipino and "Panitikan" even at the tertiary level, as this helps to reinforce the nation's identity and culture while promoting knowledge dissemination.

"The 1987 Constitution designated Filipino as the country's national language," he continued.

Literature mirrors culture and helps people better understand the world they live in, he said further.

"The KWF will urge the HEIs to continue offering Filipino and "Panitikan" subjects," Cagalingan said.

He added the language agency will also urge the HEIs to retain their respective Filipino departments.

For fields of study related to humanities, social sciences, and communication, CHED Memorandum 4 cited nine credit units for Filipino and six credit units for "Panitikan."

Credits in other fields of study may be six units for Filipino, while those for "Panitikan" may be similar to what is given for humanities.

"The Commission encourages HEIs to maintain their Filipino Departments in order for them to continue offering their Filipino and Panitikan courses," CHED Memorandum 4 reads.

Citing news reports, CHED earlier said several groups might file motions for reconsideration of the SC's decision on Memorandum 20.

CHED assured to continue to "uphold the rule of law, study issues raised by education stakeholders and await the final decision of SC" on the matter.

Aside from advocating sustained teaching of Filipino and "Panitikan," the KWF continues to promote the use of the country's national language as the medium of instruction even at the tertiary level.

For the agency, Filipino is not for daily conversation only but can be used to teach subjects in engineering, medicine, and other fields.

The KWF said the Constitution provides that for purposes of communication and instruction, official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.

Feedback from several professors showed students understand lessons better if taught in Filipino, the KWF said.

Catherine Teves / PNA