Petition asks for Filipino language in Alberta schools


By Darlene Casten


The Province will add two new languages to the Alberta Education curriculum and members of a number of Filipino community groups are asking for the Filipino language to be considered.

Premier Rachel Notley and Education Minister David Eggen acknowledged the request during Fiesta Filipino.

“We know certain communities want to see more opportunities to teach their language or have their kids learn their language – their historic language or first language, depending, in our curriculum,” Notley says. “So we are looking at ways to expand the number of language programs that we can offer and I know there has been a petition that has come from the community to our government and we will looking at that and we will be looking at how long it will take to get the ministry of education to develop a program for Tagalog.”

The petition asking for the adoption of the Filipino language into the International Language Programs of Study was signed by the Philippine Festival Council of Alberta, the Young Ones seniors group, Babae Council of Filipino Canadian Women, Rocky Mountain Filipino Association and the Filipino Catholic Society of the Diocese in Calgary.

Eggen says if Filipino is chosen as one of the new languages it could be available to teach in the 2019/20 school year.

“I will be studying the viability of the proposal and viability of such over the next few months,” he says.

The petition says that the Filipino language should be considered because there are 175,000 Filipinos in the Province, the second largest population in Canada and is the fastest growing ethnic group provincially and nationally.

Eggen agrees that the rapid growth of the Filipino community is part of the consideration.

“We know the Philippine community is one of the fastest growing in the Province and it is a very young population – lots of kids in school and we would like to value and honour their contribution by studying the possibility of studying the language,” Eggen says the Education Ministry will be looking at what resources are available to create a curriculum.

“That is part of the study to make sure that there is adequate curriculum that we can adopt from other places,” he says.

Marichu Antonio, Philippine Festival Council of Alberta board member, says there are organizations that offer Filipino language education and Filipino teachers living in Calgary that can assist in developing the curriculum.

She says it is important for Filipino youth that their language, or their parent’s language is offered in school.

“If we teach this to our youth, it will strengthen their identity and understanding of their heritage and increase their sense of belonging as Filipino Canadians,” she says.

Filipino Language is taught by the Philippine Cultural Centre Foundation and the Filipino-Canadian Saranay Association in Edmonton. They teach a curriculum that has been created for Grade 10, 11 and 12 students in the Calgary and Catholic School divisions. Students can take a challenge test and receive five high school credits for passing the test.

There are currently nine languages in the Alberta Education curriculum and two First Nations language arts programs. The NDP expects to announce the next two languages to be offered in schools by November or December.