LAOAG CITY – In between work as an all-around installer and a father of two, 29-year old Laurence Gio Bacani still attends his modular learning program so he could at least graduate in high school.
Under the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (DepEd-ALS) program, Bacani along with 38 other current enrollees at the Filipinas East Elementary School (FEES) in San Nicolas town, Ilocos Norte is hopeful of a better future if they finished education.
“As a father, I want to provide a better future for my family. I know that it is not yet late because there is hope in ALS,” said Bacani in his testimony on Wednesday following the launching of the ALS in school-based management program.
For a 50-year old housewife and grandmother Catalina Togores, she said she enjoys learning through the ALS program because her teachers and classmates are cooperative and nice to be with.
Featuring the concept of team teaching with content specialists from San Nicolas National High School and the Bingao National High School, in collaboration with the ALS teachers of FEES, Orlando Pascua, school principal of the FEES, said the ALS program in San Nicolas features the concept of team teaching where the learners can learn at their own phase.
“Our ALS program helps ensure that the last, the lost and the least have better access to improve learning opportunities and resources amid a pandemic and have a better chance of being seen, considered, empowered and integrated to become competent and productive lifelong learners and contributors to the community,” said Pascua in an interview Wednesday as he assured, “second chance education does not have to be a second class” in the province.
In his recent visit to Ilocos Norte, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, in his capacity as chair of the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, said the ALS institutionalization “is a timely and urgent measure considering the disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic in the education sector.”
Before the pandemic, the World Bank reported that about 24 million Filipinos aged 15 and above have not completed basic education and around 2.4 million children aged 5 to 14 are not in school. When the pandemic struck, around 2.3 million learners in K to 12 were not able to enroll. For those participating under the existing ALS programs, around 45 percent of the previous year’s participants did not enroll.
In a media interview in Batac City, Gachalian cited the need to strengthen the ALS Community Learning Center in every city and municipality to make it more accessible to millions of out-of-school children in special cases such as learners with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, children in conflict with the law, and those from other marginalized sectors including adults.
In Ilocos Norte, the FEES in San Nicolas town is among the 100 pilot schools in the country that continues to offer quality education to the vulnerable, marginalized, and out-of-school youth and adults (OSYA) who want to finish their elementary and high school education.
Currently, the education department established different distance learning modalities to ensure the safety of learners and teachers amid the pandemic. (PNA)