Sun.Star Pampanga - - PERSPECTIVE! -

The au­thor is Teacher


The mis­sion of the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (DepEd) is “to pro­tect and pro­mote the right of ev­ery Filipino to qual­ity, eq­ui­table, cul­ture-based and com­plete basic ed­u­ca­tion.” One of the DepEd’s ma­jor ve­hi­cles in car­ry­ing out this mis­sion is the K-to-12 pro­gram.

As K-to-12 is now in place, the DepEd is also mind­ful of the fact that not all young learn­ers have ready or easy ac­cess to school. In far-flung com­mu­ni­ties, young learn­ers have to walk long dis­tances or wade or even swim through rivers just to be able to get to school. This is very tax­ing on their young bodies and many of them ul­ti­mately lose in­ter­est in get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion.

There are the chil­dren at risk on the streets, un­able to go to school be­cause of ex­treme poverty and other con­straints. A large num­ber of chil­dren also live with their fam­i­lies in off-grid com­mu­ni­ties, where they use can­dles and kerosene lamps to read and study, ex­pos­ing them to eye­strain and dan­ger­ous fumes. Then there are those who dropped out of school in the last two decades, and who are now 15-30 years old; many of them have not com­pleted high school and now want to ac­quire skills to get em­ployed or to set up their own small busi­ness.

To ad­dress the needs of these hard-to-reach learn­ers and to pro­vide them eas­ier ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and other op­por­tu­ni­ties, the DepEd, in part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ment and non­govern­ment groups, has em­barked on “Pro­grams for Last Mile Learn­ers.” One of these is “Abot-Alam” or “Knowl­edge Within Reach,” a pro­gram for out-of­school youth (OSY). Var­i­ous sources of data put the num­ber of Filipino out-of school youth aged 15-30 at any­where be­tween 3 mil­lion and 4 mil­lion.

Abot-Alam is a con­ver­gence pro­gram in­volv­ing na­tional gov­ern­ment agen­cies un­der the Hu­man De­vel­op­ment and Poverty Re­duc­tion Clus­ter of the Cab­i­net. Through the col­lec­tive ef­fort of these agen­cies, in part­ner­ship with lo­cal gov­ern­ment units, civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor and com­mu­nity-based groups, Abot-Alam is aimed at map­ping out-of-school youth and match­ing them with ap­pro­pri­ate gov­ern­ment, pri­vate-sec­tor, or civil-so­ci­ety pro­grams that will give them op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and en­trepreneur­ship.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tion in­clude the DepEd’s Al­ter­na­tive Learn­ing Sys­tem for those who pre­fer to finish their basic ed­u­ca­tion and schol­ar­ships for those who want to pur­sue higher ed­u­ca­tion. Em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are pro­vided un­der skills training and em­ploy­ment pro­grams of agen­cies such as Tesda (Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills De­vel­op­ment Authority) and the Depart­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment, in part­ner­ship with pri­vate com­pa­nies and en­ter­prises. En­trepreneur­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties are pro­vided by the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try and pri­vate groups such as GO Negosyo and mi­cro­fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions.

Some LGUs and civil-so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions have pro­grams that cut across the three ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and en­trepreneur­ship and make these avail­able to the out of school youth in their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties.

Abot-Alam is be­ing im­ple­mented by multi-sec­toral al­liances on the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, city and provin­cial lev­els. For this na­tion­wide im­ple­men­ta­tion, the lo­cal al­liances are led by the LGUs with sup­port from the lo­cal DepEd of­fices, the Na­tional Youth Com­mis­sion, other gov­ern­ment agen­cies in the area, and civil-so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The di­rect and sus­tained par­tic­i­pa­tion of each cit­i­zen, who will adopt as his/her per­sonal mis­sion the task of en­sur­ing that at least one out-of-school youth in his/her work­place or neigh­bor­hood gets ac­cess to the op­por­tu­ni­ties be­ing pro­vided by AbotAlam. To­gether, we could make Abot- Alam a success.

II at Pam­panga High School

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