Education department introduces alternative learning system

Published by rudy Date posted on March 20, 2009

In Masbate, there is an alternative to going to school despite the inability of people to afford formal education. The Department of Education (DepEd) has introduced the alternative learning system (ALS), a free education program that benefits those who cannot afford formal schooling and it follows whatever is their available schedules.

Students attend 10 months of school, or 800 hours in the classroom, and after that performance are assessed for merits. Plan Philippines contributes to this learning program by providing teaching and learning materials, as well as the salaries of teachers. It also makes scholarships available for ALS learners. The program also provides training for instructional managers and coordinators, and supports the learners accreditation and equivalency (A&E) review.

“Plan Masbate started working with DepEd for ALS implementation in 2004. It started first in three municipalities: Mandaon, Milagros and Balud in collaboration with DepEd-Bureau of Alternative Learning System both at the division and district levels. Then it expanded its coverage to three other municipalities: Cawayan, Placer and Palanas,” said Nora Quetulio, country program advisor for Learning Plan Philippines. Alternative learning system centers are established where there is a high rate of out of school children.

The functions of the alternative learning system include coordinating with various agencies for skills development to ensure continuing employability, efficiency, productivity and competitiveness in the labor market. Likewise, the expansion of access to educational opportunities for citizens of different interests, capabilities of demographic characteristics and socioeconomic origins and status; and addressing the needs of marginalized groups.

“Some who have graduated go back to studying at ALS since they are able to do so during their free time,” said Maricon Granado, an instructional manager of ALS in Behia, Cawayan, Masbate.

Marichu Delanon, another instructional manager of ALS in Barangay Paraiso in Masbate, goes to the houses of some of the students who cannot go to school because of work to hold one-on-one classes with them. She has 50 enrollees who are currently studying in her class.

“I have learners who are maids, fishermen, and babysitters, and a saleslady,” said Delanon, adding that many of her students don’t know how to read and write.

After getting a certificate upon passing, the students have the option to enroll in ALS again or go to a formal school. In 2004, Michael Arcenas is the topnotch in A&E in 2004 under Delanon’s class. He is currently in his third year studying Nursing at University of Cebu. However, not all who would pass move on formal school right away like one of her former students, a mother, who is now employed.

Also under Delanon’s class was Rosalinda Oliva, who wanted to be a policewoman but could not afford to study criminology in college. She was only able to finish Grade 6 in 1985. Through the help of Plan Philippines and the local government in Masbate City, she was introduced to ALS. Her husband attended a seminar of alternative learning system and requested that a seminar be held in their barangay.

At the age of 36, she enrolled as a high school student and took classes from 2 to 4 p.m. After eight months, she took the accreditation and equivalency test and she passed.

“I only graduated from Grade 6. I graduated in 1985 that’s why I couldn’t believe I passed ALS because it’s been a long time since I studied,” said Oliva.

She took baking classes at the Masbate School of Fisheries for six months (besides baking, root crops processing training is also available as a technical course). She is now the head of the bakery given by Plan Philippines.

“When I was studying, I sell what I bake so that I’ll have money to spend in my future classes,” she said. “We’re poor that’s why I realized I’ll learn a lot more if I study again.” At the same time, she is currently taking up Paralegal studies.

There are currently 45 alternative learning system centers in Masbate. In Balud, Masbate, 21 passed the A&E test where four of them studied in college and took civil engineering and nursing courses in Manila. In Mandaon, Masbate there are 35 A&E passers, two are undergoing livelihood training while the elementary passers are in formal school in high school or with ALS secondary. Three are working in Manila as factory workers. In Cawa-yan, Masbate, eight female students passed elementary and are currently in secondary with ALS. There are two studying in college. There are 33 passers in the test. In Malagros, Cawayan, eight male and 10 female passers are either in formal secondary and college levels or in ALS program. The others are housewives or self-employed.
— Remedios Lucio, Manila Times

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