Court decision on language provokes cries of neo-colonialism

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University World News

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The Supreme Court of the Philippines’ recent decision upholding plans to remove Filipino language and literature from the university core curriculum has sparked heated debate over national identity and the country’s conflicted relationship with English and its colonial past.

Filipino and English are both considered official languages in the country, although English is more commonly used in business, official documents and particularly in higher education.

While most of the population speaks Filipino or one of the more than 170 Philippine languages, most also speak some degree of English, which the upper classes especially favour.

The court controversy goes back to 2013 when the Commission on Higher Education issued a Memorandum Order removing the Filipino language and Panitikan – Philippine literature – courses from the core college curriculum. The change built on the K-12 Enhanced Basic Education Act adopted that year.