Alternative Learning Systems (ALS) as a community-based grassroots form of access to basic education
In the Philippines, access to basic education remains a challenge. One in every four Filipinos aged 6-24 years old is considered out-of-school. To reach these marginalized learners, the Philippines government, by means of the Republic Act 9155 or the Governance Act of Basic Education, has improved education access through non-formal and informal education by establishing the Alternative Learning Systems (ALS). These programmes are implemented chiefly by the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) and is specifically intended for ‘out-of-school children, youth and adults’ and those who are not able to finish their formal schooling (school leavers) and need basic and functional literacy skills.
The ALS has two components: (1) the Basic Literacy Program (BLP) which teaches basic literacy skills for reading, writing and numeracy; and (2) the Continuing Education Program – Accreditation and Equivalency (CEP A&E) which is a paper pencil test that assesses learner’s competences; successful candidates will receive a certificate from DepEd which is equivalent to that received by pupils graduating from the formal education system. Both programs have their own curriculum which is both modular and flexible so learning sessions can take place anytime and anywhere, depending on the convenience and availability of the learner.
Providers of the programme are of three types: (1) DepEd-Delivered; (2) DepEd-procured (implemented by a contracted service provider such as non-government organizations (NGOs) and literacy volunteers); and (3) DepEd-partners delivered (implemented by non-DepEd contracted organizations). DepEd Delivered ALS programs are implemented by ALS Mobile Teachers (MT) –specialized teachers in the community who teach the BLP – and the District ALS Coordinators (DAC) that harmonizes all ALS activities in the district.
Procedures and processes
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), in the context of ALS begins with the Functional Literacy Test (FLT) which all learners must take to gauge prior knowledge and literacy level. Specific to literacy, the FLT emphasizes the following core competences: communication skills, problem-solving and critical thinking, sustainable use of resources/productivity, personal development and raising a sense of community, expanding one’s world vision. The team (composed of the MT, DAC and the learning facilitator) then goes to a specific barangay, brings all the learning materials and conducts learning sessions.
Ideally, the ALS team does not leave the barangay until the learners have become literate according to certain guidelines. However, depending on the need, the team may re-engage in the community for follow-up and visitation. After finishing the basic literacy program, learners may proceed to taking the CPE A&E where they will have the chance to gain a basic education diploma equivalent to that received after formal education.
Outcomes and ways forward
In 2014, the Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro explained that the department had mapped out 1.2 million Out-of-School Youth (OSYs) in their database and that 76,000 of them had already been enrolled in ALS and other similar government programs. In 2013, 6,135 passed the elementary-level A&E test, while 72,076 passed the secondary school examinations.
Department of Education (DepEd). Alternative Learning System.http://www.deped.gov.ph/als (Accessed 20 May 2015).
DepEd. 2014. DepEd releases 2013 ALS A&E test results.http://www.deped.gov.ph/press-releases/deped-releases-2013-als-ae-test-results. (Accessed 20 May 2015).
DepEd. 2014. DepEd, NYC launch Abot-Alam program nationwide, target Zero OSY Philippines. http://www.deped.gov.ph/press-releases/deped-nyc-launch-abot-alam-program-nationwide-target-zero-osy-philippines. (Accessed 20 May 2015).
Republic Act 9155: Governance Act of Basic Education. 2001. http://www.gov.ph/2001/08/11/republic-act-no-9155/. (Accessed 20 May 2015).
Source: UNESCO UIL