Senate passes Alternative Learning System Act to boost education for marginalized sectors

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2020 06:17 PM

MANILA - The Senate on Monday passed on third reading the Alternative Learning System, which allows out-of-school youth, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and other underserved communities to receive education "tailored to respond to their learning needs and life circumstances."

Twenty-two senators voted in favor of Senate Bill No. 1365, which sought to "guarantee equitable opportunity for all learners."

"The ALS Act is, in its very essence, a bill about second chances," said principal author Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian in a statement.

"It is a bill about providing opportunities for a better life to our fellow Filipinos who have fallen into hard times,” said the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education Arts and Culture. 

Under the measure, all cities and municipalities will be required to have at least 1 ALS center that would provide "a mix of learning modalities" such as "digital learning, modular instruction, and radio and television-based instruction."

The system is also useful now that the Education sector needs to adapt to a new normal during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Gatchalian said.

Institutionalizing a mix of learning modules will "help ensure the safety of learners," he said.

The Act also expands the recruitment program for ALS teachers to ensure that the system would reach far-flung communities in need of education.

Under the policy, the national government "shall create teaching positions and allocate the corresponding salary grades."

"The CHED shall likewise develop a standardized and formalized ALS curriculum for a specialized degree in ALS teaching," it said.

"Measures shall be undertaken in order for the general public, especially educational and training institutions, government agencies, and employers to recognize the nature and value of certifications provided to ALS learners."

The bill also creates the Bureau of Alternative Education (BAE), an office which was dissolved 2016 after its functions were integrated in other bureaus of the Department of Education. 

Before the Senate passed the ALS bill into law, at least 738,929 learners were already enrolled in the system, according to data from Gatchalian's office.