Mr. Sherwin A. Rojas has been an Alternative Learning System (ALS) mobile teacher since 2004 and has continued to be an influential figure in encouraging both young and old to pursue learning.
Back in 2004, out-of-school youth (OSY) residents participating in gang activities, robbery, and theft became a persistent problem in Barangay Graceville in the province of Bulacan. Many of these youngsters, who dropped out from formal school, have lost direction due to negative influences.
When Mr. Rojas started teaching as an ALS instructor in that same year, his first agenda was to gather these residents who were not able to finish elementary and high school. With the full support of local officials, these students were identified and eventually encouraged to continue education through ALS.
Barangay Graceville also launched the program “LET’S GO,” or Livelihood Education, Trainings, Services, Good Governance and Opportunity for all. This program aims to provide residents with learning and jobs suitable to their skills and needs. With the help of Mr. Rojas, the barangay was able to pass a resolution that would address the needs of the youth as well as the unemployed residents. The program was able to provide free uniforms, school supplies, and even college scholarships to ALS passers, a first among all the barangays in Bulacan.
Every year since then, with the help of Mr. Rojas, Barangay Graceville is always recognized with the most number of ALS Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test passers. In a span of 12 years, 1,100 residents have been enrolled in ALS, over 200 residents have passed the test, and most of them were able to pursue college.
In 2014, an ALS Learning Center was established in the barangay’s Ecopark, where Mr. Rojas himself has been part of the designing team. Because of Mr. Rojas’s efforts, Barangay Graceville was recognized in the Gawad Galing Barangay in 2015.
Mr. Rojas already had various kinds of students under his guidance. Most of them have matured and grown to be productive citizens. For instance, Mr. Michael Angelo Lusaya, once a pan de sal vendor, passed the ALS A&E Exam and is now working as a call center agent. Women who used to work in bars were also given opportunities to find dignified employment.
ALS students, in return, also contributed significantly to other barangay programs such as the “Clean and Green,” blood-letting, and sports events. Every two months, they lead the flag ceremony on Monday mornings.
Barangay Graceville is extremely grateful for the involvement of Mr. Rojas in achieving the goals of the community. It is now an exemplary, peaceful, and orderly barangay, where residents have become responsible, informed, employed, and significant contributors of society, all because of his heartfelt efforts through the ALS program of the Department of Education.