ALS: A STURDY BRIDGE TO EDUCATION
JANET G. LINGAD
The universal access to quality education is a legal mandate of the State. The 1987 Constitution specifically Article XIV, Section 4 articulates that the State shall “encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent, and out-of-school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs. Further, in Section 5 states that the State shall “provide adult citizens, the disabled, and out-of-school youth with training in civics, vocational efficiency, and other skills”( LawPHil,2015).
The same provisions are reemphasized in Education Act of 1982, Chapter 2, Section 24 mandating the State to support Specialized Educational Service. Moreover, Section 24 (3) defined Non-formal Education (NFE), as a Specialized Education Program as “any organized school-based educational activities undertaken by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and other agencies aimed at attaining specific learning objectives for a particular clientele, especially the illiterates and the out-of-school youth and adults, distinct from and outside the regular offerings of the formal school system”. Additionally, Section 24 (4) enumerates the objectives of NFE and to wit:
(a) to eradicate illiteracy and raise the level of functional literacy of the population;
(b) to provide unemployed and underemployed youth and adults with appropriate vocational/technical skills to enable them to become more productive and effective citizens; and (c) to develop among the clientele of non-formal education proper values and attitudes necessary for personal, community and national development ( Education in the Philippines, 2015).
Anchoring from the cited legal provisions, it is evident that the Alternative Learning System (ALS), as one of the programs of DepEd, is mandated by law. Evidently, it is equally important with the formal education because it serves as the equalizer of educational opportunities. Individuals who were not able to enjoy their right to basic education, in whatever reason, will have the equal chance to complete it through ALS.
Aside from the skill-based training of ALS with the main end for employment, literacy is also one of the equalizer programs. This provides the guarantee for Out-Of-School (OSY) learners to acquire the prescribed learning competencies through community-based learning centers. In its essence, the OSY undergo an informal instruction which is competency-based and eventually undergo an assessment through a test for accreditation and equivalency which is the Alternative Learning System- Accreditation and Equivalency (ALS-A&E).
The author is Head Teacher III at Lubao National High School