House minority leader wants Mandarin language promoted in schools

House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan (Facebook)

To boost the competitiveness of Filipino workers in overseas labor markets, House of Representatives Minority Leader Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan wants the Mandarin language promoted in all school levels.

“If we are going to continue to rely on the export of labor to help drive our economic growth, we might as well equip our future workers with Mandarin and other foreign language skills to further build up their competitiveness,” Libanan said.

“In foreign labor markets, we already have the edge because our workers can speak English. We should now aspire to double that advantage by encouraging more Filipinos to learn Mandarin at an early age,” Libanan said.

Libanan said Mandarin language skills would enable the country’s future workers to capture new lucrative labor markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

The minority leader’s remarks came after the House approved on second reading a bill suspending the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction for Kindergarten to Grade 3, owing to the lack of learning materials or textbooks in major Philippine dialects.

Mandarin student clubs, scholarships

Elementary and high schools should encourage the creation of Mandarin student clubs along with English clubs, Libanan said.

“We already have many young learners from Filipino-Chinese families that speak Mandarin. They can help put up Mandarin clubs in their schools,” Libanan said.

Libanan also called on the country’s 117 state universities and colleges to offer Mandarin courses as part of their foreign language programs.

“We would urge the Filipino-Chinese chamber of commerce and industry in every city or province to do their share by offering Mandarin scholarships to students,” Libanan said.

Top labor exporter, recipient of remittances

The Philippines is among the world’s top exporters of labor – from sailors and nurses to construction workers and household service staff.

Cash remittance inflows from migrant workers contribute almost 10 percent to the Philippines’ annual gross domestic product.

The Philippines ranked as the fourth biggest recipient of remittances in US dollar terms in 2022, according to the World Bank.

India received an estimated $100 billion in remittances in 2022, followed by Mexico ($60 billion), China ($51 billion), the Philippines ($38 billion) and Egypt ($32 billion).