Senator Win Gatchalian lauded the Senate’s ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed measure institutionalizing the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, hailed the ratification of the reconciled versions of the Senate and the Lower House as a step closer for millions of ‘out-of-school children in special cases’ and adults to complete their basic education.
Compared to a formal education system where teachers teach in the classrooms at a strictly implemented time period, in an ALS setting, ALS Teachers, Community ALS Implementors, and Learning Facilitators deliver a range of ALS programs to all out-of-school children in special cases and adults, including those who reside in the unreached, underserved, conflict-affected communities, and communities in emergency situations. Under the proposed measure, every city and municipality will have their own ALS Community Learning Centers (CLCs).
Out-of-school children in special cases are children in the official school age who are not enrolled in the elementary or secondary schools due to special cases such as economic, geographic, political, and cultural factors, even social barriers. These include learners with disabilities or conditions, Indigenous Peoples, children in conflict with the law, and other marginalized sectors.
The lawmaker stressed that considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on access to education, institutionalizing and strengthening ALS is crucial in the education sector’s efforts to ‘build back better.’
The World Bank’s May 2018 Philippines Education Note says that at least 24 million Filipinos aged 15 and above have not completed basic education. The report added that an additional 2.4 million children aged 5 to 14 were not in school.
The DepEd noted the national enrollment data as of September 28 showed there were only 393, 163 enrollees under the ALS program nationwide. The number is significantly lower compared to last year’s enrollment rate reaching 738,929.
To help strengthen the ALS Teachers Program, the DepEd, in consultation with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), shall create teaching positions and allocate corresponding salary grades. ALS Teachers will also be entitled to promotion to the next higher levels based on the qualification standards of the CSC.
“Kung tuluyang maisabatas ang panukalang ito, masisiguro natin na ang pangalawang pagkakataong ibibigay natin sa ating mga kababayan ay talagang makatutulong upang matupad nila ang kanilang mga pangarap na magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan,” Gatchalian said.