The House committee on basic education chaired by Rep. Ramon Durano IV (5th District, Cebu) approved a bill that will boost accessibility to education of underserved sectors of the country such as the out-of-school youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The unnumbered substitute bill consolidates House Bill 2733 filed by by Rep. Aurelio Gonzales (3rd District, Pampanga), HB 3292 by Rep. Tom Villarin (Party-list, AKBAYAN), HB 3706 by Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez (1st District, Leyte), HB 4029 by Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr. (Party-list,1-ANG EDUKASYON), HB 4307 by Rep. Florida Robes (Lone District, San Jose Del Monte City), HB 3333 by Rep. Victoria Isabel Noel (Party-list , AN WARAY), HB 4386 by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, BH), and HB 6039 by Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. (2nd District, Camarines Sur).
The bill institutionalizes the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the basic education for out-of-school children, youth, and adults; persons with disabilities; indigenous peoples; and other marginalized sectors of society. The bill also covers learners in unreached, underserved, and conflict-affected communities.
The measure seeks to provide these disenfranchised sectors equal opportunity to improve their informal, non-formal, and indigenous education through programs tailored to meet their limited schedule.
In sum, the bill endeavors to surmount the time, physical, emotional, economic, and other constraints barring millions of individuals from benefiting from traditional classroom learning experience.
The bill also seeks to promote lifelong learning in all streams of education to ensure the learners’ sustainable future, and to institute a mobile teacher program especially in far-flung communities.
With the approval of the bill, the ALS is established as a parallel learning system for learners who, for acceptable reasons to be determined by the Department of Education (DepEd), cannot be admitted to the existing formal basic education system.
DepEd will strengthen the implementation of Non-Formal Education (NFE) and Informal Education (InfEd) programs.
The NFE program is designed to be modular and flexible so that learning can take place anytime and anyplace that is convenient and available to the ASL learners. It is subdivided into the Basic Literacy Program (BLP) for people who are illiterate; and the Continuing Education: Accreditation and Equivalency (CE: A&E) Program for elementary education dropouts.
To deliver the ALS programs, the DepEd may utilize learning modules which contain learning activities, and pre- and post-assessments. DepEd may also use supplementary materials like text and non-text modules, self learning instructional materials, learning activity packages, online or digital modules, textbooks, e-modules or blended technology learning materials.
The DepEd will also prescribe an appropriate number of session hours or days required for the completion of the ALS programs to ensure that learners receive adequate and quality schooling and training at par with the formal education system. Passers of the ALS are qualified to enrol in junior high school or senior high school education.
The bill taps the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to promote technical vocational education and training programs and gainful employment opportunities for ALS passers.
ALS Learning Facilitators, comprised of ALS Mobile Teachers, Literacy Volunteers, and Instructional Managers, will augment the manpower resources needed in implementation of the ALS programs. These instructors will undergo the necessary training regularly throughout the calendar year to ensure the quality of their teaching skills.
Moreover, each municipality and city will have at least one ALS Community Center. The Centers, as much as possible, shall be situated at a place conducive for learning and accessible to the public.
The bill also mandates the establishment of a local ALS committee to oversee the implementation of the program within the municipality or city, coordinate with the necessary government agencies and local government units, and serve as an advisory board to the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Sangguniang Bayan.
The substitute bill received the strong support of DepEd and of all the committee members.