Theses Doctoral

From Policy to Local Practice: an Implementation Study of the Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education in the Philippines

Cardenas, Marilu Nery

The public school system in the Philippines adopted a multilingual policy starting in school year 2012-2013. Implemented as the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education program, the policy localizes the language of early literacy and instruction, the content of the curriculum, and the support systems. This signals a shift away from the country’s long history of standardized curriculums with their one-size-fits-all approach and Western, colonial paradigms, and language policies with their preferential treatment of the colonizer’s language (English) and/or national language. This dissertation describes and assesses how the program was implemented in its first year. The focus is on resources or capacity to implement the program since the literature on implementation studies identifies the availability of these as a factor affecting the passage from policy to local practice.
Using the case study design in qualitative research, one division and two elementary schools under it were purposively selected for this inquiry. All Grade 1 teachers in the two schools along with their curriculum consultants or instructional leaders (namely, their principal, district supervisor, and the division supervisor) comprised the study participants. Semi-structured interviews and document review were conducted over a period of one year to generate data. Theory-generated typologies from the conceptual framework as well as emergent themes or categories from real-life data guided the process of data organization and analysis.
The findings suggest patterns that tended to reinforce institutional continuities rather than institutional shifts. Critical resources or capacities for change were not productively provided to the local implementers. Additionally, the resource or capacity gaps appeared to be underpinned by a lingering command or hierarchical structure. To get past the weight of this status quo, recommendations are offered. These include policies aimed at strengthening the practice of teacher expertise and instructional leadership, and at modifying the administration of the program to align the school language with the home language.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Cardenas_tc.columbia_0055E_10745.pdf Cardenas_tc.columbia_0055E_10745.pdf application/pdf 5.65 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Zumwalt, Karen K.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 2, 2018