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Edcom II, Pisa, and Wittgenstein

By Leilani B. Mendez


The younger generation faces a great problem in the ever-changing postmodern world due to the abundance of information. Acquiring knowledge is no longer enough to navigate this sea of data; one needs to develop wisdom to make sense of the various sources that are available. In this respect, linguistic literacy is an essential competency as it facilitates comprehension and helps to develop language skills. Nowadays, more than ever, the necessity of promoting language literacy is highlighted by the breakdown of communication in human civilizations, which is demonstrated by global concerns like terrorism, hunger, and conflict. This article highlights how linguistic literacy may improve social cohesiveness and address global concerns by drawing on Wittgenstein’s philosophy, UNESCO’s Four Pillars of Education, and the worrying situation of education in the Philippines.


The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who is well-known for his contributions to the study of language, argued that the limits of human language are closely related to our mental ability. Wittgenstein argued that language and comprehension go hand in hand and that our language preferences have a huge impact on how well we can communicate. The ability to read and write in several languages is essential in today’s world when communication happens through a variety of media. Understanding texts, either spoken or written, gives people the skills they need to sift through the abundance of data and come to insightful conclusions, at the very least, if not wisdom. Wittgenstein’s philosophy emphasizes how language and cognition are inextricably linked and how language literacy is essential to how we see the world.


Wittgenstein’s writings about language, learning, and linguistic abilities are embedded in UNESCO’s Four Pillars of Education—a framework that highlights the complex nature of learning. The first pillar, “Learning to know,” is about gaining insight and information. This pillar is accessed through linguistic literacy, which enables people to efficiently obtain and comprehend information. “Learning to do,” the second pillar, concentrates on enhancing one’s aptitudes. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively via language increases a person’s ability to make significant contributions to a variety of professions. “Learning to be,” the third pillar, invites people to consider their identities, values, and beliefs. Introspection is facilitated by linguistic literacy, which enables people to express and comprehend their ideas and develops a stronger bond with their sense of self. The fourth pillar, “Learning to live together,” aims to foster peace and social cohesiveness in society. By acting as a link between people, linguistic literacy promotes comprehension, empathy, and successful communication in a variety of social settings.


The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) result which characterizes the awful state of Philippines education system makes one think is Wittgenstein’s theoretical assertion about language and learning informs the situation. As demonstrated by the Philippines’ 2022 PISA score of 77th out of 81 countries, the country’s educational system faces substantial issues. There is an urgent need for educational changes because the mean scores in reading, math, and science are below OECD standards. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) advises taking inspiration from other countries’ policies and practices in light of the Department of Education’s endeavors to address learning recovery and reallocate money to the National Learning Recovery Program.


To date, efforts to improve Philippine education are mostly led by the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II). Decentralization is supported by Father Ben Nebres, an advising member of EDCOM II, as a way to solve systemic problems in the educational system. According to Nebres, a more successful Department of Education (DepEd) might result from decentralization, which involves giving division or regional levels more responsibility in developing and implementing curricula. Decentralization is one of EDCOM II’s 28 priority areas, with the goal of enhancing the educational system’s creativity, adaptability, responsiveness, and participation.


Another EDCOM member, Dr. Allan I. Bernardo, draws attention to the latest PISA results, which show that the whole educational system—even well-resourced centers—performs poorly. He advocates for a targeted strategy to deal with these problems, one that is informed by the knowledge obtained from the low PISA scores of Filipino kids.


To sum up, the abundance of information in the postmodern period highlights the need for linguistic literacy to be a fundamental ability for the next generation. Wittgenstein’s philosophy emphasizes the critical role linguistic literacy plays in navigating the complexity of the modern world, reinforcing the inherent relationship between language and comprehension. The Four Pillars of Education established by UNESCO emphasize the comprehensive character of education, and language competence is a key component of each pillar. The PISA rankings and the EDCOM II efforts, which show how bad schooling is in the Philippines, highlight how urgently linguistic literacy is needed to address global issues resulting from human civilizations’ failures in communication. Societies may facilitate efficient communication, mutual understanding, and eventually the settlement of difficult global challenges by placing a high priority on language literacy.

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