The alternative Learning System is hope for the future for millions of out-of-school youth
The limiting effect of unplanned circumstances on access to quality education has undoubtedly affected literacy in the Philippines, as the administration of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte pushed to widen the reach of the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
For the past six years, the administration, through the Department of Education (DepEd), has intensified its move to ensure no one is left behind, especially the marginalized and most vulnerable sector of society.
Since then, around 4,228,350 out-of-school youth and adults have been given a second chance. This figure is 95 percent higher compared to the enrolment turnout from the past two administrations, on a yearly average.
Among the millions of hardworking learners is 36-year-old mom Frendy Tesorero, who had to give up schooling in her youth to prioritize taking care of her family. Now, she expressed great joy in finally graduating from the program, saying her educational attainment somehow gives her fulfilment as a mother.
She entered ALS so that her child would be proud of her. And it paid off, as she managed to materialize her goal by finishing school through the once-a-week modules of ALS, which allowed her as well to tend to her parental responsibilities and her work as a helper.
Tesorero thanks her ALS teacher, whom she considers a hero for helping her through the lessons and requirements, as well as President Duterte and his administration’s programs helping people like her.
“Lubos po ako nagpapasalamat sa mahal na Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte, ang dami ninyo pong ginawa sa bayan natin na para sa akin ang hirap mo po i-let go dahil sa sobrang magagandang ginawa mo po (Thank you, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. You’ve done so much for the country. For me it’s hard to let you go for all the great services you’ve done),” she says.
Elisha Velasquez, 17, another ALS graduate, told the Philippine News Agency how the program taught her to interact with people of different ages and diverse societal orientations.
Through ALS, around 4,228,350 out-of-school youth and adults have been given a second chance. This figure is 95 percent higher compared to the enrollment turnout from the past two administrations, on a yearly average.
To her, this opportunity came at the perfect time as she stopped her studies in eighth grade. “Si Sir Rush po, matiyagang nagse-send sa pamamagitan ng isang messenger. Naramdaman po namin ang suporta ng Duterte admin sa pamamagitan ng pagtugon nila sa pangangailangan ng mga ALS teacher/ALS students kagaya ng modules materials, school supplies, at mga gamit na nagamit namin during our intervention (Sir Rush [ALS teacher] diligently sends [the modules] through a messenger. We appreciate how the Duterte administration responds to the ALS teachers/ALS students’ needs, like modules, materials, school supplies, and other things we need during the intervention),” she says.
Who would have thought that the ALS would prepare Velasquez for senior high school, where she received high honors” Now, she is dreaming to pursue either a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology or Education.
Like Tesorero and Velasquez, Jannete Niña Garcia, 18, says ALS has brought her great opportunities.
Despite the challenges it brought, Covid-19 led Garcia to a decent job, as she now works as a call center agent. “I found a good job, and now I can provide for our needs at home,” she says.
ALS has not only produced empowered women in society but also promoted competency for skilled men, even in the international arena.
JR Saleo, 38, a truck driver and ALS graduate, has managed to finish the challenging yet helpful ALS curriculum.
“Napakatagal na nung huli akong pumasok sa paaralan. Kinailangan kong magsimula muli ngunit nagustuhan ko ang ALS program dahil ang mga nilalaman nitong module ay talagang kagamit gamit sa tunay na buhay (It has been so long since I last attended school, so I need to start again, but I was hooked in the ALS program because the content of the modules are very uselful in real life),” he says.
Some of his favorite learning points were the module on communication skills and the module on life and career skills, which have helped him develop self-confidence.
As a result, Saleo has been chosen for a job in in Canada, where he can’t wait to seize the opportunity to better himself. “Nagkaroon ako ng kaalaman sa paggawa ng magandang resume na nagbigay sa akin ng self-confidence. Nakapasa ako sa interview ko para sa isang trabaho sa ibang bansa dahil naihanda ako ng ALS para sa interview na iyon at nagkaroon ako ng job offer sa kompanya (I learned how to do a good resume, which gave me self-confidence. I passed the interview for work abroad because ALS has prepared me. I got a job offer from the company),” he beams.
Saleo acknowledges how the administration’s efforts have significantly brought an impact on his life. “Sa administrasyong Duterte, maraming, maraming salamat po sa magandang pagkakataong ito na ibinibigay niyo sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong gustong makapag-aral at maabot ang kanilang mga pangarap. Sa pagpapaganda ng ating education system, mas maraming tao po ang nahikayat na magbalik sa pag-aaral. Sana po ay magpatuloy pa na mag-improve ang sistema. (To the Duterte administration, thank you very, very much for this great opportunity you’ve given all Filipinos who want to learn and make their dreams come true. By making the education system better, you have encouraged more people to finish their education. I hope the system will continue to improve),” he says,
The country’s pursuit of quality of education under Duterte has proven to change lives for Filipinos. This legacy, especially for the DepEd, will go beyond the current administration, shining the light on education as an investment to address challenges and poverty in the future.
As DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones shared in her Duterte Legacy report on May 31, ALS has brought so much fulfilment in the lives of young Filipinos and adults. “You cannot imagine the joy, the pride. You could see young mothers bringing their infants and marching to the stage. I have met young inmates in Davao, at the initiative of former Mayor Sara Duterte, who benefited from the Alternative Learning System. So we are reaching out not only to those in the streets, to the farmers, to the factory workers, but also to those who are in prison, and those who are in remote places,” she said. (PNA)
EVERYBODY DESERVES A SECOND CHANCEAlternative Learning System (ALS) students, from different walks of life, form a small circle inside a classroom in Cavite. (Frendy Tesorero)