A facility designed to help expand the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the Philippines funded by the South Korean government will soon rise in Leyte.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), together with the Korea International Cooperation Office (KOICA) and the Department of Education (DepEd), held the groundbreaking ceremony on April 14 to signal the start of the construction of the Girls Education Center (GEC).
“The Government of the Republic of Korea, through its development cooperation agency KOICA, supports the enhancement of learning opportunities for young women in vulnerable communities around the world,’ said Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Inchul Kim.
He added, “In the Philippines, Korea is glad to partner with UNESCO to implement KOICA’s project to provide alternative learning opportunities for girls out of school in Tacloban City, an area where the Korean government has been providing various other assistance, including humanitarian and reconstruction assistance following Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.”
The construction of the GEC is part of the “Better Life for Out-of-School Girls to Fight Against Poverty and Injustice in the Philippines” project funded by KOICA and implemented by UNESCO together with DepEd.
Launched in 2017, the project aims to increase the passing rate among out-of-school girls in the Accreditation and Equivalency Test (A&E), improve ALS girl-learners and ALS mobile teachers skills, and develop new teaching and learning materials.
“Placing importance on Alternative Learning Systems is all the more critical now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further widened and put a spotlight on inequalities. As we continue to redefine the future of education, we have to continuously create ways to ensure that learners – especially girls – who cannot commit to formal schooling due to various social, economic, geographic and even cultural factors, be given a chance to have access to a more flexible and appropriate alternative learning program,” said Dr. Hans Dencker Thulstrup, officer-in-charge of UNESCO Jakarta.
The GEC is envisioned as a prototype for a multi-functional ALS Learning Center for girls to help address the infrastructure needs of the ALS program in the Eastern Visayas Region. Once operational, the GEC is expected to cater to the needs of ALS girl learners not only in the pilot areas of Palo and Tacloban City but also in the neighboring municipalities in Leyte. “We see this facility as one that has been needed for years. We are thankful to UNESCO and KOICA for providing us an educational resource that enables us to apply innovation and best practices for the benefit of our ALS learners, especially the girls,” said Dr. Ma. Gemma Ledesma, regional director of DepEd Regional Office VIII. The plans and design of the GEC were approved by DepEd last year and UNESCO awarded the construction bid in March with an eight-month construction period.
Features of the GEC include a library, life-skills training room, exhibition gallery, kitchen-laboratory, wellness room and ICT/math and science laboratories.
Last January, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11510 institutionalizing the Alternative Learning System in Basic Education. The law guarantees augmented support and increased access to opportunities for out-of-school children in special cases and adult learners, including indigenous peoples, to acquire basic and functional literacy and life skills and engage in a parallel pathway to complete basic education.
“The construction of the Girls Education Center is a great support to the vision of the Government of the Philippines to expand the ALS program, especially in communities with high poverty rates and in areas that are intensely affected by disasters. Through UNESCO, we promised to do our share in eradicating poverty by spearheading quality and inclusive education with special focus on gender equality. The construction of the GEC is one testament to the fulfilment of that promise,” said KOICA acting Country Representative Jaesang Hwang.