Age does not matter: DepEd 2017 proposed budget seeks to hasten ALS expansion

As much as 16.59 million Filipinos now have better opportunity for employment and livelihood as the Department of Education (DepEd) is working double-time to revive and expand the coverage of the Alternative Learning System (ALS). The figure, which translates to 39.03 percent or two-fifths of the entire labor force, is based on the Philippine Statistics Authority's (PSA) data on working Filipinos who have not completed basic education as of April 2016.

"We cannot deny [the right to education to] those who have reached maturity but don't know how to read and write," DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones told congressmen and stakeholders as she sought to defend the Department's proposed P567.56 billion budget for 2017.

Furthermore, in a data yielded by Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), about four million Filipino children and youth were out of school in 2013.

According to Briones, the need to reach out to adults who failed to complete basic education, out-of-school children (OOSC), and out-of-school youth (OOSY) prompts DepEd to "do things out of the box because the problems are out of the box."

One measure that Briones readily implemented is the creation of an Assistant Secretary position that will focus on strengthening ALS and re-integrating adults, OOSYs, and OOSCs in the formal school system. The proposed budget, which soared by 33 percent from the P436.5 billion allotment in 2016, also covers the integration of ALS into the new K to 12 curriculum and the training of teachers and ALS facilitators.

ALS will be expanded through: offering ALS in drug rehabilitation centers; developing alternative learning methods for hard-to-reach mountain regions, small islands, and densely populated areas; and establishing ALS in countries where children of Filipino migrants do not have access to formal education.

As a parallel learning system, ALS consists of Informal Education and Non-Formal Education, the latter being comprised of the Basic Literacy Program (BLP) and the Accreditation and Equivalency Program (A&E). Adults, OOSYs, and OOSCs who cannot read and write can learn under BLP. Meanwhile, learners 15 years old and above who can read and write but have not completed basic education can continue elementary or secondary schooling through A&E.

Learners receive ALS education for free and benefit from five learning strands based on the definition of functional literacy: communication; problem solving and critical thinking; sustainable use of resources and productivity; development of self and sense of community; and expanding one's world vision.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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