This statement is being issued in support of Kleinee Bautista, Carl Andrew Abadilla, and Samuel Respicio, three Ilokano students expelled from their school, Saviour’s Christian Academy by the school president, Rev Dr Brian Shah.
The expulsion of these students clearly suggest the urgency of rethinking and revisiting key issues related to language rights and to emancipatory education, two values 170+ Talaytayan MLE hold dear.
We wish to enumerate them here: one, their speaking Ilokano, an act prohibited in that school’s speak-English-only policy; two, their having been expelled without due process; three, the relevance or the lack of it, of that school’s policy in the holistic education of these young people; and four, the legal context of the school regulation vis-à-vis the Philippine government’s educational policy on mother tongue-based multilingual education.
We are issuing this statement in our capacity as a non-government organization whose aim is to help in evolving an emancipatory educational paradigm for all peoples of the Philippines, a paradigm based on the inconvertible truths of diversity, linguistic justice, cultural democracy, and human rights.
In light of this new direction of Philippine basic education, we find this act of Rev Shah unacceptable, and thus, call for his resignation from that school which he claims as his own school.
Likewise, we commiserate with these three students who have now become symbols of oppression, of continuing mis-education, and of the need to address the fundamental reality of multiplicity in this country, a reality that must always be taken into account in an attempt to equip young people with the needed life-long learning skills and competencies.
We wish to express here our position on the matter.
First, the prohibition of the Ilokano language (and other native languages) in this school, and in any school in the Philippines under the supervision of the Department of Education, is counterproductive to the students, and their expulsion because of the criminalization of their act of speaking in their native tongue is unjust and unfair.
Second, due process remains a bastion of a decent interpretation of justice; we deny due process to those perceived violators of a school regulation and we deny them justice.
Third, in the holistic education of students, the use of their native language follows the basic rule in education of starting every student from what that student knows. What the student knows in the beginning, a knowledge that needs expansion, elaboration, and integration, is what his first, native, or mother language mediates.
Fourth, this act of depriving the students of their native language particularly in their school community where learning ought to happen is contradictory to the very principles of the Philippine government’s educational directive on the mother tongue.
In all four counts, we find Rev Shah’s actuation short of what is acceptable, and thus, we are calling for his resignation from his post as president of that school, and if he is a foreigner who has abused his stay in this country, to leave this country immediately.