DepEd rolls out improved Alternative Learning System

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Department of Education (DepEd) said that there will be changes in the implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) starting this year as it prepares to fully roll out an improved version of its curriculum.

DepEd Assistant Secretary for ALS and Public Affairs Services G.H., on the sidelines of the “No One Left Behind: Better Life for Out-of-School Girls to Fight Against Poverty and Injustice in the Philippines – Hindsights, Insights and Foresights” national forum at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City held recently, said that the implementation of the ALS is expected to be better in the coming months as the government – through the department – continues to put premium on the non-formal education delivery program.

“We need to put in life skills, we need to put in advanced skills so they could compete – we are really working on to improve the lives of our learners whether they are in school or out-of-school,” Ambat said. DepEd is set to roll out a newer version of the ALS curriculum in June. “What’s new is the number of competencies— there are additional competencies,” she said. The new ALS curriculum, she added, have more competencies focused life skills – among others.

Meanwhile, DepEd Undersecretary Jesus Mateo also underscored the importance of strengthening the ALS program – particularly for those who are eyeing to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test. The strengthened ALS Program, he noted, will help those who will pass the A&E exam “to eventually have the competency when they go to college for their education.”

In the ALS program, development and enhancing life skills are highlighted among the learners. “We’re not just focused on academics alone, we are also looking into various aspects of the learners’ development,” Mateo said in a mix of English and Filipino. The ALS group of DepEd, he added, continues to ensure that the ALS curriculum “remains in line with the 21st century skills.”

‘No one left behind’

The “Better Life for Out-of-School Girls to Fight Against Poverty and Injustice” is a four-year project initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Jakarta and funded by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The project started in July 2017 and expected to be completed in June 2021.

In partnership with the Philippines’ DepEd, National Commission for UNESCO in the Philippines, private and public sector, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – among others, the project aims to strengthen the ALS program in the country within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG) to “provide quality, accessible, and equitable education and lifelong learning for all.”

The “No One Left Behind: Better Life for Out-of-School Girls to Fight Against Poverty and Injustice – Hindsights, Insights, and Foresights,” National Forum coincided with the handover of project related materials to the DepEd. It was participated in by over 100 national participants which include the DepEd key officials from the central, regional and division offices, ALS teachers and district ALS coordinators and representatives from project implementing partners.

The national forum was specifically organized to present the accomplishments of the project since the start of the implementation to date specifically on the capacity building for ALS Mobile Teachers, District ALS and for coordinators and ALS Girl-Learners as well as ALS Curriculum related documents.

The said forum was also held to generate ideas on the in-depth understanding and state of the ALS implementation in the field and become a venue where recommendations particularly on the topics for ALS Mobile Teachers, District ALS Coordinators and ALS Girl-Learners capacity building as well as in the development of ALS Learning Modules and Teachers’ Guides can be proposed.

Aside from Mateo and Ambat of DepEd, the national forum was also attended by UNESCO National Commission for the Philippines Secretary General Lila Ramos Shahani, UNESCO Office – Jakarta Director and Representative Dr. Shahbaz Khan, and KOICA President Lee Mikyung.

During the national forum, various sessions were held to assess the implementation of ALS in the Philippines. Possible interventions for challenges in implementing the ALS program were also discussed during the brainstorming workshop.

After the national forum, a set of recommendations – especially on the development of the new ALS learning modules and teachers’ guides as well as contemporary needs-based topics for the capacity building of ALS mobile teachers and district ALS coordinators as well as ALS girl-learners – were generated.

Considered as one of DepEd’s flagship programs, the ALS is a “parallel learning system that provides an option to the existing formal instruction.” It is an “alternate or substitute when one does not have or cannot access formal education in schools” and includes both the non-formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills. In 2018, DepEd data showed that there are 823,301 enrolled in the ALS program.