By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture is set to consolidate the four bills seeking to institutionalize alternative learning system (ALS) in basic education for the out-of-school youth, persons with disabilities (PWDs), indigenous people, and senior citizens.
The panel, chaired by Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, formed a technical working group that would consolidate House Bill Nos. 1586, 4392, 917, and 1586 filed by Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez; San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida ”Rida” Robes; Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales; and Pangasinan Rep. Tyrone Agabas, respectively.
The TWG will be headed by the Tingog party-list representative, who is the chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children.
The TWG was created upon the motion made by Negros Occidental Leo Rafael Cueva.
In her sponsorship speech, Romualdez cited the need to institutionalize ALS as a major component of the country’s basic education system with a clearly defined role within the overall education goals in the country, parallel to the formal education system.
“This bill intends to strengthen the ALS by defining it as the other lungs of the Philippine educational system and by clearly defining its role within the education system of our country,” she said.
She noted that when ALS was first introduced in 2001 following the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 9155, otherwise known as the Governance in Basic Education Act, thousands of out-of-school youth and persons in disadvantaged situations have benefited from it.
“I hope that with your support we can expedite the passage of this bill and thus realize this long- overdue improvement in our educational system,” Romualdez said.
In the previous 17th Congress, the House of Representatives approved the ALS measure on third and final reading.
“In understanding the government’s ALS program and in processing and crafting the bill I proposed. I realized that many of these ALS learners are determined individuals who faced challenges or made sacrifices, which led them to stop formal schooling,” Romualdez said.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez was also present during the hearing.
The proposed ALS Act seeks to institute a mobile teacher program especially in far-flung, unserved, underserved and conflict-affected communities.
It defines the ALS as “a parallel learning system that provides an alternative learning arrangement to learners, who, for acceptable reasons to be
determined by the Department of Education (DepEd), cannot be admitted to the existing formal basic education.” It includes both the non-formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills.
Under the bills, ALS shall cover out-of-school children, youth and adults, persons with disabilities (PWDs), indigenous peoples (IPs), and other marginalized sectors of society, who either have none or limited access to formal schools, and who are usually located in far-flung communities, including those in areas with armed conflict.
The bills task the Secretary of Education, through the appropriate DepEd officer, to exercise general supervision and administration over the ALS programs.
The measures also mandate the DepEd to strengthen the implementation of Non-Formal Education (NFE) and Informal Education (InfEd) programs.