Filipinos’ English skills on the decline
A widespread erosion in the Filipinos’
ability to speak, read and write English is jeopardizing the competitive
advantage of the local work force over the work force of other countries,
according to the American Chamber of Commerce.
John Forbes, chair of the chamber’s
committee for community affairs, said English has become the world’s most
widely used language for international business and communication.
“Surveys on international competitiveness
have consistently cited the Philippines’ large English-speaking, well-educated
and readily trainable work force as the country’s overriding competitive
advantage. But not for long, it seems,” Forbes observed.
He said the increasing reports of the
erosion of the quality of English in the Philippines are sufficient to create
concern that the deterioration could be rapid and extensive, and that the
country’s number-one competitive advantage is “seriously threatened.”
Because of this, many businesses choose to
locate in countries like China, where low labor costs offset the savings gained
from having a more skilled work force like the Philippines.
The chamber is the umbrella organization of
US companies doing business in the Philippines.
Education Secretary Edilberto de Jesus has
acknowledged the decline in the quality of Philippine education in general and
English proficiency in particular among Filipino workers, but said the
government is exerting major efforts to deal with the problem.
De Jesus cited insufficient investment and
poor management of the education system as the main reasons for the decline of
education in the country.
He admitted that the decline in English
proficiency among Filipinos is not merely a language problem but an education
problem. Merely “throwing money to stop the problem” won’t do the
education system any good.
To arrest the decline, de Jesus said the
Education Department has embarked on a five-phase program under its National
English Proficiency. The first program is the Self-Assessment Test administered
to high-school teachers of English, science and math.
The second is the Mentor Training Program,
which trains teachers to become trainers themselves. The third is the National
Trainers Training program under which the outstanding teachers will be sent to
England to teach.
The fourth is the Orientation of School
Heads who drilled under the Mentor Training Program so they can support and
carry it out in their schools. The fifth involves monitoring and evaluation.
De Jesus said that with the help of the
multiphase program, teachers can learn English in a better way and in turn apply
the lessons to their students.
He also encouraged private agencies and big
businesses to provide financial assistance to the department to ensure the
effectiveness of the program.
Although the Education Department gets the
biggest allocation in the national budget, de Jesus said 90 percent of the funds
go to the salaries of teachers and personnel.
--Benjie Varella, Correspondent
Bron : The Manila Times
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