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Senator Win Gatchalian flags lack of success metrics in ALS program

VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – Alternative Learning System teachers interact with children at the People’s Park in this city to bring them closer to the government’s program on basic education, 15 April 2015. Senate Committee on Basic Education, Culture and Arts chairman Senator Win Gatchalian re-filed the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Act to institutionalize a flexible education program for the marginalized sectors. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian called out the absence of success indicators in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Alternative Learning System (ALS), a program that aims to provide viable learning opportunities to marginalized sectors.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture was disappointed during a hearing that tackled the program. “Part of the reason why ALS is not taken seriously is because of lack of standard metrics. Wala tayong nakukuhang concrete information. Parang may masabi lang na meron tayong ALS.”

Gatchalian directed DepEd to gather and present data that would establish how many ALS graduates are having gainful employment or returning to the formal school system. He pointed out that in 2018, ALS received ₱533 million budget while in 2017, an allotment of ₱633 million. “Every year, we are allocating budget to this. It’s not big, but it’s still hard-earned money by the taxpayers”, Gatchalian added.

Gatchalian also lamented that the passing rate of ALS learners who take the Alternative Learning System Accreditation and Equivalency (ALS A&E) Test is only between 30-40 percent. Passers of the ALS A&E Test receive a certificate or diploma that certifies their competencies are comparable to junior high school graduates.

Gatchalian emphasized that having success measures for ALS will put accountability on DepEd, which has sought the program’s institutionalization. Roderick Corpuz, Supervising Education Program Specialist of the Alternative Learning System Task Force said that institutionalizing ALS would allow the program to meet its needs on human resources, funding, facilities, and governance structure.

“I can also see from history that the ALS was shuffled many times. Dati ay nasa Bureau of ALS, tapos nailipat sa Bureau of Curriculum Instruction at ngayon ay may Task Force, Gatchalian observed, noting how the program’s administration was transferred from one office to another.

“We want to have a permanent and dedicated structure for ALS. Currently, nasa Task Force po kami and it is temporary. What will happen to the Task Force after the administration? Who will manage ALS if there’s no specific office that will implement the program?,” Corpuz added.

To date, ALS employs 4,876 mobile school teachers, 9,535 ALS teachers, 333 full-time district house coordinators, and 109 part-time district coordinators. According to Corpuz, these are not enough to address the current needs of 623,329 learners enrolled in the system.

Gatchalian re-filed Senate Bill No. 740 or the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Act this 18th  Congress as one of his top priority bills. The bill calls to institutionalize a flexible education program outside the scope of formal school system to cater to the learning needs of marginalized sectors. The ALS Act seeks to intensify and expand the reach of non-formal education to adults, out-of-school youth, persons deprived of liberty, members of cultural minorities, indigenous people, and persons with disabilities.