Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun welcomed on Tuesday the signing of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Act, which he envisions to be useful even with the future rollout of anti-COVID vaccines.
“Given recent developments, it does not look like we will see most students returning to their classrooms. Therefore, ALS modes will still be needed in school year 2021-2022,” Fortun said in a statement.
“At best, the older students—those from Grade 9 to Grade 12 and those in college—would have the best chances of returning to classrooms if they are vaccinated within this year. According to the disclosures and data of the vaccine manufacturers, their vaccines are not yet recommended for children. The youngest ages they suggested for vaccination are in the 15 to 18 (age groups),” he noted.
Fortun was a member of the House contingent in the Bicameral Conference Committee on the ALS Act, which was reported to have signed into law by President Duterte Monday. The law was designated as Republic Act (RA) 11510.
“I thank President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law these important reforms and milestone in alternative learning system. The law provides for bridging mechanism for ALS completers to higher education,” he said.
He said the new ALS law gives the Department of Education (DepEd) strong legal basis to make all the needed changes to its delivery modes while online class continue under the new normal.
Fortun said the ALS law had been pursued since the 15th Congress, but measures on it only prospered in the current 18th Congress after the COVID-19 pandemic made face-to-face classes for pupils untenable due to health risks.
“Availment of the DepEd ALS or Alternative Learning System and lifelong education services is for free. The newly-signed ALS Law guarantees that all DepEd ALS programs are free and there shall be no solicitation or payments for any fees as a requisite for admission,” he explained.
He said that while DepEd has been practicing ALS for decades, there has been a growing need to update the system via legislation.
“Different ways of non-formal education shall be used to implement ALS, not just through online/ digital blended learning. The implementation modes depend on the situation of the learners. It is the DepEd that will adjust to the learner’s needs, not the learner adjusting to the DepEd,” Fortun said.
The Philippines, unlike countries in the West, has yet to launch mass immunization efforts against the 2019 coronavirus.