Gwen Garcia asks Cebu schools to stop teaching in Cebuano

MANILA, Philippines – Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia blamed subjects being taught in mother tongue and Filipino for low rankings in global assessment of reading, math comprehension. 

“Lowest in reading comprehension, science and math? Aren’t these what we are supposed to learn in school?” Garcia said on Tuesday, December 17.

“I think DepEd is creating a confused batch of students here. We have mother tongue, and then in the higher grades, they speak Filipino,” she added.

In response to the low rankings, a resolution was passed in the Cebu Provincial School Board reinstating English as the basic medium of instruction instead of Cebuano.

"Unless and until we are stopped [by a court], that is what we are implementing,” Garcia said.

However, Salustiano Jimenez, officer in charge of Department of Education Central Visayas (DepEd-7), said neither the provincial government nor the local school board has the power to make changes to curriculum.

“For the Department of Education, if there is an order coming from the Central Office, we will implement,” Jimenez was quoted in Cebu Daily News.

He said he would not follow order’s from agencies which do not have jurisdiction over education policy. “We collaborate with them. We partner with them. We respect their decision for our schools and learners but at the end of the day, what we will be following is only the order from the DepEd Central Office,” Jimenez added.

The Philippines ranked 79th in reading, with an average of 340 against the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 487. (READ: Philippines ranks among lowest in reading, math, and science in 2018 study)

While the report recommended interventions in education be "targeted at socio-economically disadvantaged students and/or schools" for countries, it did not recommend scrapping mother tongue nor Filipino as the medium of instruction. 

Education secretary Leonor Briones said in response to the low test scores, "We finally need to respond to the biggest lingering challenge of basic education in the country – quality, particularly of our students’ learning outcomes." –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.