IN THE recently concluded PRC exam for medical technologists, Francis Jacob Paras and Noiemy Joyra Serrano landed at the Top 5 and 6 ranks, respectively. Both topnotchers, who are from Guagua, Pampanga, are completers of Basic Education through Alternative Learning System Program of the Department of Education. They completed the ALS program in 2015, and afterwards, Francis Paras enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas while Noiemy Serrano studied at the Angeles University Foundation.
Francis and Noiemy are the newest addition to the roster of success stories of how ALS is truly a program that provides second chances and new opportunities for those who are willing to try again. Anyone who has that same desire to get a diploma will be encouraged to follow suit and become one of the countless people who believe that with ALS, everything is possible.
With thousands of ALS passers including famous celebrities like Manny Pacquiao and Heart Evangelista to name a few, this non-formal education system serves as a spring of hope for all, especially those who are not given the chance to complete their basic education in the formal system. Young or old, rich or poor, anyone who wishes to take that second chance in life has the ALS program waiting for them.
As the parallel learning system in the Philippines that provides a practical option to the existing formal instruction, ALS is the alternate or substitute for those who were not able to complete their studies. With various reasons such as poverty, early marriage, family problems, and the like as the common causes that are cited for the school leavers, the ALS Program is able to provide all Filipinos the chance to have access to and complete basic education in a mode that fits their distinct situations and needs.
In January of this year, Republic Act 11510, or “An Act Institutionalizing the Alternative Learning System in Basic Education for Out-of-School Children in Special Cases and Adults and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” was passed. The said law shall provides adequate support to ensure that more out-of-school youth and adults (OSYA) will be able to have access to quality basic education. It was espoused by 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.
In a statement, DepEd says "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."
Furthermore, under the said enactment, 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.
ALS aims to open more educational opportunities for Filipino citizens of different interests, capabilities of demographic characteristics, socioeconomic origins and status as well as addressing the needs of marginalized groups. It is more flexible and it happens outside the classroom, community-based, usually conducted at community learning centers, barangay multi-purpose hall, libraries or at home, managed by ALS learning facilitators, such as mobile teachers, district ALS Coordinators, instructional managers at an agreed schedule and venue between the learners and facilitators.
The ALS Program, with its many improvements through the years, will ensure that no one will be left behind. Through it, anyone who feels like they no longer have a chance to pursue their dreams, let Francis, Noiemy, and the thousands of those who serve as living proofs say that with ALS, there is indeed hope and endless possibilities.