President Rodrigo Duterte has institutionalized the Alternative Learning System in Basic Education for out-of-school children in special cases and adults.
This, after Duterte on December 23 signed Republic Act No. 11510 also known as the Alternative Learning System Act which aims to provide adequate, timely, and quality attention and support to the basic learning needs of out-of-school children in special cases and adults including indigenous peoples (IPs).
Under the law, the ALS program is expanded and strengthened to provide increased opportunities for out-of-school children in special cases and adult learners, including indigenous peoples, to develop basic and functional literacy and life skills, and pursue an equivalent pathway to complete basic education.”
The law guarantees equitable access for all learners, including those who reside in the unreached, underserved, conflict-affected communities, and communities in emergency situations to avail of systematic, flexible, and appropriate alternative basic education programs outside of the formal school system.
It also promotes lifelong learning opportunities anchored on the ALS K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) that takes a holistic, integrated, and intersectoral approach, and provide pathways across modes of learning that will ensure learners will become caring, self-reliant, independent, productive, and patriotic citizens by allowing such learners to pursue further education, after participating in the ALS program and passing the accreditation and equivalency assessment or certifications or both required by the Department of Education (DepEd) or seek employment.
R.A. 11510 aims to hire, capacitate, and develop ALS Teachers, Community ALS Implementers and Learning Facilitators to deliver a range of ALS programs especially in far-flung, unserved, underserved, conflict-affected communities and communities in emergency situations.
It is also meant to design specialized programs for learners with disabilities, taking into consideration their different levels of learning needs and other functional difficulties in the development of instructional materials and learning resources in an accessible format.
The law aims to develop, integrate, and use nonformal and informal education approaches and strategies in the delivery of the ALS programs and the assessment of learning outcomes and competences of ALS learners by providing flexibility in the duration of learning programs, learning contents, and delivery strategies, among others.
It is also meant to improve access to education and other learning opportunities and raise the level of literacy to contribute to an individual’s sustainable future and strengthen non-formal basic education programs while ensuring support to the policy of the DepEd that school-age children should be enrolled in formal education, and that they should be able to return to the formal education system if they drop out.
Bureau of Alternative Education
The Bureau of Alternative Education (BAE), under the new law, will be created to serve as the focal office for the ALS programs of the DepEd. It will be headed by a Director.
The BAE will also be the focal office for the policy formation, curriculum development, learning program delivery, and learning materials development for the ALS program.
To ensure the effective implementation of the ALS, the BAE must establish quality assurance and support systems and undertake regular learner assessment activities.
The DepEd must strengthen the range of priority NFE programs including Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Programs; Indigenous Peoples Education Program; Academic-Focused Bridging Programs; and Functional Education and Literacy Programs.
It may use appropriate, relevant, and responsive learning modalities to effectively deliver the programs including modular instruction; online, digital or mobile learning; face-to-face learning sessions and tutorials; radio or television-based instruction; blended learning or a combination of various modalities; and workshops, simulations, and internships to inculcate life skills, work readiness, and entrepreneurship, and the provision of inclusive and safe learning environments.
DepEd must also prescribe the appropriate minimum number of months required for the completion of each of the different ALS programs to ensure that the learners enrolled are provided with adequate and quality basic education and skills to complete the required competencies of the ALS K to 12 BEC.
It will also be in charge of regularly conducting ALS and A&E assessments and certifications as a means to measure and certify competencies of ALS program completers and other learners who opt to secure elementary and secondary-level certifications. It must also conduct micro-certification of subsets of competencies drawn from the ALS K to 12 BEC.
To reach more out-of-school children in special cases and adults and to accommodate learners with disabilities, the ALS Teachers program will be strengthened.
The DepEd, in consultation with the Department of Budget and Management and the Civil Service Commission, must create teaching positions and allocate the corresponding salary grades.
It may also engage the services of Community ALS Implementers to augment the needed human resource requirements for the delivery of ALS programs, provided that three years after the effectivity of this act, the DepEd will hire only ALS Teachers.
ALS Teachers are entitled to promotion to the next higher levels based on the qualification standards of the CSC. The DepEd must ensure equal opportunities and standard implementation on the promotion and compensation of ALS Teachers.
The DepEd, in coordination with other partners in government, academe, and the private sector, must develop and conduct regular training programs and workshops for ALS Teachers, Community ALS Implementers, and Learning Facilitators to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge and capacity to carry out the programs under the ALS curriculum as well as enhance their skills on their roles as academic, administrative, and community leaders.
The same benefits and professional development packages awarded to regular teachers in terms of fellowships, scholarships, and training opportunities in all learning areas of the basic education curriculum must also be given to ALS Teachers.
The DepEd or the LGUs or both must provide at least one ALS Community Learning Center (CLC) in every municipality and city throughout the country to facilitate a learning environment for the ALS K to 12 BEC and other ALS programs.
Priority should be given to areas where there is limited access to formal basic education or a higher concentration of out-of-school children in special cases, or adults lacking basic literacy skills or have dropped out of formal school or both.
To augment the number of existing ALS CLCs and those provided under this act, the facilities of all DepEd schools throughout the country must likewise be used as learning centers during no class days and after regular class hours during class days.
Guidelines must be developed by the BAE in collaboration with the strands of operations and administration of the DepEd on the use of facilities of public schools for the delivery of ALS programs.
Each ALS CLC must be constructed in accordance with the specifications, criteria, and other details provided and approved by the DepEd in consultation with the municipal or city mayor or duly authorized LGU representative to ensure the orderly implementation of the ALS programs.
To ensure that every learner has equitable access to ALS programs, every CLC must be open and operational seven days a week and be provided with adequate learning resources and facilities, including a space for childcare for parents attending ALS classes.
The Local Schools Boards must be authorized to set aside a portion of the proceeds of the Special Education Fund for the delivery of ALS programs within the LGUs’ respective areas of jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, the hiring of additional Community ALS Implementers within the LGU’s area of jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, the DepEd, in partnership with LGUs and the private sector, must conduct a mandatory annual review of the ALS program and submit such annual report to Congress to measure its effectiveness and ensure its proper implementation. An evaluation system must be established to assess the impact of the ALS program and the progress of the learners who have completed the program.