A 56-year-old housewife of Patikul, Sulu, expressed elation that she was able to acquire basic education despite her age through the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Manis Hasan, is one of the 103 learners who completed on Wednesday their respective ALS program jointly implemented by the 11th Infantry Division (ID) and the Bangsamoro Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) in the province of Sulu.
The 11ID, in a statement Friday, said that 62, including Hasan, of the 103 learners were completers of the Basic Literacy Program (BLP) while the remaining 41 were for the Out-of-School Youth (OSY) program.
Most of the BLP completers are elderly who were not able to acquire basic education while the OSY are teens to young adults who failed to complete their studies in regular schooling.
The ALS classes, which started on January 16, are being held every Saturday at the elementary school of Barangay Danag, Patikul town.
Manis and her son, 22-year-old OSY program completer Almudznir, both marched on stage to receive their certificates.
“Noong panahon magulo pa kasi rito (sa Patikul) kaya di ako nakapag-aral. Ngayon, masaya po ako dahil kahit sa ganitong edad may pagkakataon pa rin po akong matuto. Tapos magkikita-kita kami ng kaklase ko kapag Sabado. Kapag naman sa bahay, minsan kay Almudznir ako nagpapatulong. Natutuwa ako dati thumbmark lang ako sa mga transakyon, ngayon kaya ko na mag-sulat ng pangalan at pumirma (It was really chaotic here in Patikul before so I was not able to finish my studies. Now, I am happy that at my age, I still have the chance to learn. I will see my classmates every Saturday. At home, I ask Almudznir for help. I am happy because before, I can only affix my thumbmark in transactions. Now, I am able to write my name and affix my signature),” Manis said in an interview.
Another BLP completer is 16-year-old Aldaskan Mannan, who had just returned from Sabah before he enrolled himself in the ALS program.
Aldaskan and his parents moved to Sabah in 2007 to gamble for a better life.
“Umuwi na kami rito kasi mas okay na rito kaysa doon sa Sabah. Mahirap ang buhay namin doon. Dito nakakita na kami ng oportunidad para makapag-aral ako at sina Papa naman makapag-hanap buhay sa lupa namin (We returned home because the situation here is better than in Sabah. Here, we saw an opportunity to learn and my father got a chance to make living through our piece of land),” Aldaskan was quoted as saying.
Hadji Wilson Ali, Patikul East district supervisor, recognized the role of the Philippine Army in the ALS program.
“Napakatagal na kasi na problematic ang pag-aaral dito sa Patikul dahil sa gulong dala ng Abu Sayyaf (Learning here in Patikul has been problematic for a long time because of the chaos sowed by Abu Sayyaf). For a long time, hindi na basta makapasok yung mga teacher sa takot nilang ma-kidnap. Kaya naman yung mga estudyante natin ay nawalan ng gana. Ngayon na nagawa namin ang ALS dito, bumallik na ang interes ng bata at pati matanda (the teachers cannot easily report to work over fears of being kidnapped. So our students lost interest. Now that we have ALS here, the learners, both young and old, got interested again),” Ali said.
He added that soldiers from the 21st Infantry Battalion volunteered to be ALS instructors.
“Ngayong araw, bawat isang learner ay sobra-sobra ang tuwa. Ang youngest ata ay 14, tapos kung tama ang tantsa namin ay mayroon doong 60 plus years old. Pareho-pareho naman silang sobra ang tuwa na nakapag-aral at naka-graduate din (Now, every learner is happy. The youngest is about 14 years old and if we are not mistaken, we have a learner who is over 60 years old. They are all happy as they already graduated after a long time),” Ali added.
Lt. Col. Eddie Abolencia, 21IB commander, said that it was his predecessor, Lt. Col. Gerald Monfort, who personally scouted for personnel who are capable of teaching.
The 10 selected soldiers then underwent MBHTE’s instructors’ training.
Private Edgar Ligue, a 26-year-old graduate of Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Major in Agricultural Fisheries and Arts, is one of the 10 soldier-instructors who met with the learners every Saturday since the class opening on January 16.
Ligue said the learners enjoyed being enrolled in ALS with their peers so much they look forward to taking more classes if possible.
Maj. Gen William Gonzales, 11ID commander, said that he is pleased to attend the closing ceremony as it is also his son’s graduation day.
“Doon sa amin, puro online lahat. Mula lectures hanggang graduation. Mapalad tayo rito sa Sulu at hindi ganoon kataas ang risk sa Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), napayagan tayo ng Sulu Task Force Covid-19 sa ganitong mixed learning. Isa pa, mag-iisang taon na walang terroristic offensive ang Abu Sayyaf. Alam niyo, kahit sabihin nating hindi pa tuluyang natatapos ang sa pandemya at terorismo, dapat lang na hindi natin isantabi ang pag-aaral. Hindi madali ang ganitong klaseng mga adhikain pero sulit lahat para sa kinabukasan ng Lupah Sug (Sulu) (In our area everything is online, from lectures to graduation. We are lucky here in Sulu because the risk of Covid-19 is not that high and we were allowed by the Sulu Task Force Covid-19 to have this mixed learning. Another thing is there has been no terroristic offensive by the Abu Sayyaf for almost a year. You know, even if the threat of the pandemic and terrorism is far from over, we should not set aside learning. These efforts are not easy but it’s worth it because the future of Sulu is at stake here),” Gonzales added.
Gonzales, Patikul Mayor Kabir Hayudini and MBHTE officials attended the formal completion ceremony of the ALS held at Danag Elementary School. (PNA)