Group urges use of Negrito dialects in schools

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By Anna Valmero

SUBIC, ZAMBALES – How to preserve the languages and dialects of the country’s indigenous tribes? By using these as medium of instruction in schools.

At least 32 languages of the Negritos are endangered of being lost and forgotten due to non-usage by the new generation, according to a study by the Defenders of the Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago (DILA).

The group said that many indigenous peoples (IP) groups have chosen to abandon their mother tongue and shifted to use languages that are perceived as superior “because it would open greater economic opportunities particularly in employment and ease transition into economic zones.”

To save the country’s indigenous languages, DILA proposed the adoption of the mother tongue-based multilingual education that is strongly hinged on a culture-based curriculum.

Under the program, the school would use the first language or mother tongue as medium of instruction in the child’ early years of education similar to the use of Filipino by the Department of Education.

Under DILA’s proposal, dialects and languages of indigenous tribes living on a particular place would be given focus. The group strongly believes that losing these languages is similar to losing an aspect of our national identity.

Senator Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, recently held meetings with DILA representatives and vowed to support their proposal.

“Studies have shown that the use of the first language as the medium of instruction contributes to students’ better performance in school. said Legarda.

At present, schools nationwide use Filipino and English for teaching students.

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