CLOSE to 500 out-of-school youths in Baguio City have been given a fresh start after graduating from the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) program.

The youths received their diplomas during graduation rites last Friday.

One of the graduates is Yolanda Cruz Ladines, a young mother of two.

“I am happy and proud that I am now a secondary school graduate and I can now pursue my unfinished dream of becoming a professional media practitioner. With this I want to thank my family, my parents, my teachers and the government for the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program,” she said in her remarks in behalf of the graduates.

Twenty-four youths passed the accreditation and equivalency test for elementary, and 498, including 13 inmates at the Baguio City Jail, passed the test for high school, administered by DepEd’s Baguio Division Office at the end of the program.

The ALS high school graduates can take up technical-vocational courses or a baccalaureate degree.

ALS-Baguio has been consistently doing well in the accreditation and equivalency test. Last year, the division had 48 percent passing rate in the elementary level compared to the national average of 32 percent.

In the secondary level, the division’s 74.06 percent is way above the 39.42 percent national passing rate.

DepEd Baguio City Schools Division Superintendent Francis Caesar Bringas, assisted by OIC Asst. Division Superintendent Augustin Laban Jr. and City Council Education Committee chair, Councilor Peter Fianza awarded the diplomas to the ALS graduates.

Bringas reminded them that their diploma is testimony that they might have missed the chance for a formal education, but ALS gives them a rare opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan encouraged the graduates to continue aiming for a better life, not only for themselves but for their families and the community. Carlito Dar