LEGAZPI CITY, ALBAY, July 15, 2021 – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones on Thursday lauded the first batch of Senior High School (SHS) graduates of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program in the country.

“Today, we celebrate not just any graduation but the graduation of the first batch of Alternative Learning System Senior High School under the new ALS K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum. For many out-of-school youth and adults, ALS Senior High School is the completion of non-formal education. For DepEd, it is the fulfillment of its major priority,” Briones stated in her keynote message.

The Education chief underscored the exceptional circumstances that the ALS SHS graduates had to face before and during the pandemic, and their perseverance to finally get to where they are now. She likewise commended DepEd Region V for stepping up to the challenge of piloting ALS SHS.

With the theme “Sa ALS 2.0, Kalidad ng Edukasyon lalong Patatagin sa Gitna ng Pandemya,” DepEd Region V successfully completed its pilot implementation of the ALS SHS, which started in 2019, amid the many disruptions and unique challenges posed by the pandemic.

“I wish to extend my thanks for not giving up on your schooling, for not losing hope amid the chaos. As pioneer graduates of this hybrid and enhanced ALS curriculum, you have raised the bar of the Alternative Learning System. History will remember you that you are brave, courageous, and determined graduates under a unique and difficult new normal,” DepEd Region V Dir. Gilbert Sadsad noted.

On behalf of the Secretary, Assistant Secretary for ALS G.H. Ambat confirmed a total of 62 ALS SHS graduates from the pilot schools Ligao City National High School in the Division of Ligao City, Nursery High School in the Division of Masbate City, Federico A. Estipona Memorial High School in the Division of Masbate Province, and Tabaco National High School in the Division of Tabaco City.

The ALS SHS graduates, most of whom are breadwinners and single parents who had to stop attending school to put the needs of their families first, received their basic education diplomas and distinctions.

Briones delivered her message to the graduates virtually but expressed her sincere desire to be physically present during the ceremonies “to shake the hands and perhaps hug” them “who have done so well.”

Joining the virtual graduation ceremonies were ALS Task Force Dir. Marilette Almayda, DepEd Region V ALS Focal Person Ricardo Tejeresas, DepEd Schools Division Superintendents, Curriculum and Learning Management Division chiefs, and DepEd Division Focal Persons of the implementing Divisions.

In a press conference prior to the graduation ceremonies, Ambat underscored, “Today is a milestone. Ang Department of Education ay nakapagpa-graduate ng first Senior High School batch sa formal system noong 2018 at bago magtapos ang administrasyon, makakapagpa-graduate kami ng first batch sa Senior High School ALS.”

Tejeresas also shared that the pilot implementation of ALS SHS in Bicol Region was made possible because of the availability of facilities, teachers, and curriculum that can serve the unique needs of ALS learners, “school heads with the heart to continue [and] share their facilities, and supportive LGUs [local government units].” He added that he looks forward to more Regions following suit.

In 2019, through DepEd Order 13, series 2019 (Policy Guidelines on the Implementation of Enhanced Alternative Learning System 2.0), DepEd mandated the inclusion of the SHS level in the ALS Program, which is equivalent to Grades 11 and 12 in the formal education system. It ensures that all ALS learners will be equipped with competencies required for employment, entrepreneurship, middle-level skills, and tertiary education.

This is further strengthened with the passage of Republic Act No. 11510 (ALS Act) in December 2020, where it is emphasized that Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test Elementary level passers are qualified to enroll in Junior High School (JHS); A&E Test JHS level passers are qualified to enroll in Senior High School (SHS) or in selected technical vocational education and training programs through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); and A&E Test SHS level passers are qualified to enroll in higher education (subject to the requirements set by higher education institutions), or in technical vocational education and training programs through TESDA.

As a legacy program of the current administration, ALS is part of DepEd’s commitment that education continues for Filipino out-of-school children in special circumstances, youth, and adults (OSCYA) amid and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.