January 5, 2021 – A new year, a new beginning for the second chance education program of the Department of Education (DepEd). The timely passage of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Act reaffirms DepEd’s commitment to ensuring that no learner will be left behind, even amid a pandemic. It likewise underscores the country’s trust in the potential of young and adult Filipinos who have been out of the formal school system to be able to live gainfully and contribute effectively to their community and the country.
Otherwise known as “An Act Institutionalizing the Alternative Learning System in Basic Education for Out-of-School Children in Special Cases and Adults and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” Republic Act No. 11510 shall provide adequate support to ensure that more out-of-school youth and adults (OSYA) will be able to have access to quality basic education. We thank our partners in the legislature, specially the Committee on Basic Education chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian in the Senate and Representative Roman Romulo in the House of Representatives for championing the noble cause of empowering OSYAs.
The passage of the ALS Act is one of the notable milestones of DepEd since it began introducing reforms to the program in 2016. We extend our gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his unwavering support to the program.
The law expands partnerships between DepEd and local government units, other government agencies, private sector, and non-government organizations. To provide a coordinated leadership and serve as the focal office for the continuous implementation of ALS, a new Bureau of Alternative Education (BAE) shall also be created.
The ALS Teacher Program shall be strengthened through pre-service and in-service trainings. Additional teaching items will be created and a recalibrated and equitable support to ALS teachers, whose contexts differ based on the areas they serve, i.e. rural, urban, and geographically disadvantaged areas shall be provided in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management.
The ALS Program of DepEd has been providing a viable learning option for Filipino OSYA for decades. It aims to empower OSYA learners to continue learning in a manner, time and place suitable to their preference and circumstances, and for them to achieve their goals of improving their quality of life and becoming productive contributors to society.
But with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, a number of basic education learners were unable to enroll in formal school – adding to the already existing number of OSYA. As the pandemic’s effect will still be very much felt in the next two to three years, the ALS Act can help DepEd to better respond to the bigger demand for the ALS Program.
As the legacy program of the current administration the institutionalization of the ALS Program will immensely contribute to the mandated strengthening and expansion of its implementation throughout the country. Through the ALS Act, and the strong support of stakeholders, the ALS will be truly a second chance education program that is not second-class.