In response to the community’s request to enhance the Filipino language integration in schools, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the provincial government’s initiatives to create a new K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum, to be adopted by 2020. Starting next year, Alberta students will have an option to learn the Filipino language.
The Filipino language and culture program will be offered to students in kindergarten up to grade 12 according to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley‘s announcement on Thursday. She hopes this initiative will help Filipino communities strengthen their “cultural rooting” and make Alberta a better place to live. For many years, the Filipino community has made significant contributions to the local economy of Alberta by bringing in essential skills. According to Notley,
“Creating a K-12 Filipino language and culture curriculum will ensure this vibrant community can continue to grow deep roots and make this province even greater.”
Minister of Education Parliamentary Secretary Annie McKitrick applauded the announcement, saying that the move will make students feel more comfortable within the school system. From her statement,
“I speak a number of languages and I’ve always been a great supporter of recognizing the importance of learning another language and there is a lot of research that shows if young people can maintain and learn their mother tongue, it’s great for their development and attachment to their culture, self-worth, and wellbeing.”
The ministry of Education will start building the new K-12 program around those existing courses and develop it for all grade levels according to Education Minister David Eggen. Public demand urged him to consider the Filipino language to be included as part of the provincial curriculum since there are 170,000 Filipinos residing in Alberta. Eggen said,
“I’m feeling excited just talking about it. It’s not just the language. Language is where culture resides, and also, teaching language is a sign of respect and acknowledgment.”
In a local news statement, Filipino community leader Dolly Castillo described the K-12 curriculum as a “historic gift,” ensuring the cultural preservation of the Filipinos she said…
“Programs like this instill pride in students and their heritage and results in active and engaged citizens.”
With the limited number of hours per school year, the Filipino language and culture curriculum is now offered in selected high schools including Edmonton Catholic School, Calgary Catholic School District, and Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School.
In 2017, the premier tasked Eggen to formulate anti-racism strategies after hearing from local citizens across Alberta regarding the racism issue. He learned that the integration of Filipino language in Some Alberta schools provided them with a sign of “respect and belonging” to their respective communities.
However, the Filipino language and culture curriculum will not be mandatory school officials have the sole discretion in offering the program, depending on the needs of the community. The Filipino language would be the ninth international language to be covered, joining native languages like German, Arabic and Chinese Mandarin among others.