Gatchalian: Institutionalized ALS Should Reach 24 Million Filipinos Lacking Basic Education

Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the institutionalization of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), the Department of Education’s parallel learning system to the existing formal education system. According to the lawmaker, it is crucial for the program to reach 24 million Filipino adults aged 15 and above who have not completed basic education.

The lawmaker pointed out that while the number of ALS enrollees have increased over the years, an overwhelming number of potential learners have yet to be reached. Based on the DepEd’s data, there are 2,025,167 enrolled learners between 2016 to 2018 but only 1,329,667 learners were able to complete the program.

“We have 24 million people who did not graduate from high school, so that’s one out of four, and there are one out of ten or ten percent of our population that cannot read and write, so that’s 10 million. There’s an urgent need to put a lot of attention to ALS because it also captures literacy,” Gatchalian said.

“That’s why I’m very bullish about this bill because we need to reach out to the 24 million and right now we’re only addressing 600,000 a year. That’s barely one percent of the total required enrollment,” he added.

Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 740 in July this year which seeks to provide accessible training and education services in every barangay, including the far-flung and conflict-torn areas to out-of-school children, youth and adults, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, children in conflict with the law, persons deprived of liberty, and other marginalized sectors of society.

The ALS curriculum is designed to help learners acquire the knowledge, skills, and competencies that learners under the formal school system are expected to develop under the K to 12 Program.

DepEd Assistant Secretary and ALS Task Force Head G.H. S. Ambat acknowledges the fact that the ALS curriculum needs to evolve. “There are so many challenges brought about by the fourth industrial revolution so our learners need to learn information and literacy skills, communication skills, life and career skills, which are part of the K-12 program,” she confessed during a hearing by the Senate Committee on Basic Education.

To ensure the quality of teaching in ALS, the bill (SB 740) mandates DepEd to conduct training programs for ALS teachers and instructors. The ALS Mobile Teacher Program will also be strengthened to accommodate learners with special needs. Mobile teachers are those who live among the people in remote barangays to conduct intensive community-based training for out-of-school youth and adults. To encourage professional growth, teaching positions with corresponding salary grades will be opened for these mobile teachers.

“We want to institutionalize, strengthen, and correct the deficiencies of the program. If it is a life-changing program, why then are we not giving it focus which means that we’re not only wasting resources, but also the time of the learners,” Gatchalian said.
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