MANILA The Alternative Learning System (ALS) program is ready to take in new students all year round, an official of the Department of Educations (DepEd) said Monday.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), DepEd Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat said "everday is enrolment day for ALS and that there are 300,000 learners enrolled to the program nationwide.
"According to our learner information system, this May, come Brigada Eskwela period, it will increase because there are adults who will ask about finishing elementary or high-school and ALS is an option. And over the past few years the number of enrollees has increased," she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
"There are many enrollees from the regions of Bicol, Davao, Region 2 and Region 12 based on the enrollment data. Many out of school youths who have enrolled, although we don't know the concentration of the high drop-out rate, I guess it could be in ARMM because of poverty conflict, she added.
Ambat explained that the ALS program has the full support of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
"The president mentions this in his SONAs which needed to be strengthened or intensified. He believes a person who learns or graduates from high-school will have higher pay or salary by 26 percent, according to studies, than someone who doesn't have a high school diploma," she said.
Adults and young people who dropped out of school find "second chance education" in the ALS program, Ambat said.
"This is for those who stopped schooling because they've been sick for a long time, had family problems, had to work, or had children early. This is also for those looking for fulfilment in finishing [high-school] even if they won't continue going to college, she said.
The ALS program has PHP533 million budget for 2018, a million lower than last year's budget.
"Budgeting depends on how fast you spend the money, although we saw that the budget is small for 2018 we are improving on how we spend the money, utilization is one big factor, some money were unused because there are systems which need to be fixed, we only used 70 percent of the PHP 633 million budget last year and the rest went back to treasury because it wasn't allocated, we were late to use it), Ambat said.
Apart from its annual budget allocation, Ambat explained that the program is also supported by the private sector and local government units (LGUs).
"Many private companies donate like Cebuana Lhullier which gave computers, and, well, LGUs, because they want their local residents to be productive also and be able to contribute to the community," she said.
Ambat added that the ALS program is aligned to the K to 12 curriculum hence its graduates would become readily employable with chances of getting higher pay.
"We're just fixing the roll out of K to 12-aligned curriculum so they can get Technical Education and Skills Development Authority certification. By next year [there could be] senior high, [we're] operationalizing [it], we see the ALS teachers now are generalists but the K to 12 program needs specialists � specialist of math, science, etc. and the policy we're thinking is we'll team up with formal senior high schools but the classes are still ALS style," she said. (PNA)