Every Filipino has a right to free basic education. But many Filipinos fail to avail of it, for various reasons.In attending to this issue, DepEd has set up the Alternative Learning System (ALS) to provide all Filipinos the chance to gain access to basic education in a mode that fits their distinct situation and needs.ALS is a learning system that provides a practical option to the existing formal instruction. For the out-of-school children, youth and adults who do not have access to formal education in schools, ALS lives up to its name - it offers an alternative. It offers non-formal sources of knowledge and skills.
All three programs are modular and flexible: each one of them can take place anytime and anyplace, depending on the convenience and availability of the learners. Learning sessions are usually held in community learning centers following a schedule agreed upon by the learners and the facilitator.
The Alternative Learning System is a very important component in the Philippine Education to achieve quality and access to education as envisioned in the Education for All (EFA) 2015 Philippine Plan of Action and specifically on the reduction of illiteracy rate. Section 12,1 Rules XII of R.A 9155 stipulates that the Alternative Learning System is a parallel learning system to provide a viable alternative to the existing formal education instruction, encompassing both the non formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills.
One of the most important initiatives in Non Formal Education in the Philippines in the last 10 years is the Alternative Learning System which is a major component of basic education with a clearly defined role within the overall educational goal. Thus the Bureau of Non Formal Education is renamed to Bureau of Alternative Learning System.
The Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) is mandated to address the needs of basic education of the out-of –school youth and adults in the country particularly in far-flung and isolated communities, to raise the level of literacy in the target areas and improve the quality of life of individuals and families in remote and underserved communities.
The BALS implements two major programs : the BASIC LITERACY PROGRAM (BLP) for illiterates and ACCREDITATION and EQUIVALENCY (A&E) PROGRAM for elementary and secondary level drop-outs. The age limit is 13 years old and above for the elementary drop-out and 15 years old and above for the high school drop-out. It also implements a wide array of other related programs and projects in partnership with local and international organizationsTo attain this vision and fully implement the Alternative Learning System in the Philippines, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Mobile Teacher Program was conceptualized as a means to bring education where the learners are. It is an immediate response to the demand of millions of target learners for some kind of relevant learning intervention through the Alternative Learning System.
For the full and effective implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), Mobile Teachers have been deployed and assigned to areas where the unreached and underserved population of the country is.
Due to lack of manpower in the implementation of ALS programs in the field, the Bureau of Alternative Learning System requested for the service of some formal school teachers to be designated as full-time District ALS Coordinator (DALSCs)
Both Mobile Teachers and District ALS Coordinator conduct intensive community-based learning sessions for illiterate out-of –school children, youths and adults and those who have not finished ten years of basic education.
A. Components of ALS A&E System
1. ALS Curriculum
The basic curriculum for the Alternative Learning System is composed of 5 Learning Strands :
a. Communication Skills]
b. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
c. Sustainable use of resources/productivity
d. Development of self and a sense of community
e. Expanding one’s world vision
2. Learning Materials
a. 20 modules for the Lower Elementary Level in Filipino (consist of Learning Modules and Facilitator’s Guide)
b. 20 modules for the Lower Elementary Level in English (consist of Learning Modules and Facilitator’s Guide)
c. 114 modules in Advance Elementary Level in Filipino and English
d. 287 modules in Secondary Level in Filipino and English
e. 94 modules in Academic Focused-Bridging Program
3. ALS A&E Assessment and Certification System
The component of the ALS A&E certification system :
A. The ALS A&E standardized multiple-choice tests – covers
competencies drawn from five learning strands
2. 4 subtests with 160 questions for elementary 200 for secondary
3. Time-framed (3 hrs. 30 min. for elementary and 4 hrs. 15 min. for secondary)
B. An essay
1. assess writing skills
2. assessed using wholistic scoring by a team of three (3)
3. based on Minnesota Standard Test of Written Composition.
The certificate of A&E passers both in elementary and secondary bears the signature of the Department of Education. A formal agreement with different agencies, institutions and organizations was made giving the Secondary level Passers all the chance to enroll in post-secondary schools, vocational training programs, college/university courses subject to the usual screening procedures.
With the classes of Alternative Learning System in all the areas of the country, the dream of having a quality basic education and uplifting the lives of the Filipino people will now be a realization.