Mothers find new educational opportunity in ALS program

Past failure to complete their education and the burdens of family life did not hamper the two mothers here to pursue their dreams to finish schooling.

Currently enrolled in the Department of Education's Alternative Learning System (ALS), 19 year old Princess Cordova, a single mother with one child, and Cherry Simeros, 29, who has four children, said they religiously attend their classes from Tuesday to Thursday to be able to finish high school.

Cordova and Simeros are among the 15 ALS students in Purok 1 of Barangay Manoligao, a far flung barangay.

I only finished up to grade 10. I stopped because of the lack of financial support to continue my studies. But when I already had a child I started to worry about his future. This is the reason why I joined the ALS program of the government, Princess said in an interview on Wednesday.

She added that her parents help her nurse her child while she is attending ALS classes.

I am positive that I'll have a good future with ALS. Some of our residents here had already found jobs here and abroad after graduating from ALS, Princess said.

For her part, Cherry said she believes it was not too late to achieve something for herself.

I cannot rely on the income of my husband. His work is seasonal in construction sites, she said.

Cherry, whose eldest child is 9 while the youngest is 3, said she wants to earn a higher level of education to find decent jobs to help the family sustain their daily needs.

There are times that I miss our class because I have to sell snacks in Manoligao High School, she said.

Cherry said that after three months in ALS, she already knew how to adjust time and priorities so that she can attend the regular classes.

I have a neighbor who is already working abroad. She was a graduate of ALS here, she added.

Both Princess and Cherry expressed appreciation to the ALS program of the government, saying it provides new windows to mothers still clinging to their hopes of earning higher education for the betterment of their families.

Dedicated teacher

Princess and Cherry cited the dedication of their teacher who "tirelessly" performs her regular duties and responsibilities. They are referring to Cresela Rabadan, 26, married with two children and a resident of Manoligao, who has been teaching ALS students for more than a year.

Rabadan holds the position of Teacher 1 at the Department of Education (DepEd).

I encountered difficulties during the first months of my assignment. But later on, I realized that this is my calling to teach mothers, fathers and the out of school youth who wanted to pursue their dreams of completing their studies, Rabadan said.

DEDICATION. Teacher Cresela Rabadan (standing, right) holds a regular Alternative Learning System class in Purok 1, Brgy. Manoligao, Carmen, Agusan del Norte, on Wednesday. Labadan teaches 34 adult students in the village. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

The absences of students were the main concern she faced when she first handled ALS classes.

There were times that I had to visit their houses to encourage them to return to classes after three to five days of absences, she said.

She added that lately, absences have been already minimized after she conducted house visitations with the students.

For this school year, Rabadan is handling three ALS classes in Manoligao: in Purok 3 on Tuesdays, Purok 1 on Wednesdays, and Purok 7 on Thursdays. Rabadan currently handles 34 ALS students in the village.

On Mondays and Fridays, I report to the district office in Carmen town to do paper works including writing and submission of reports, she added.

She said that a product of ALS from Manoligao last year is set to graduate in education degree this March.

ALS is a parallel education system being implemented by the DepEd that gives option to those who cannot attend formal instructions in schools to attain education through informal sources of knowledge and skills.

The program was conceptualized based on the mandate of the Constitution to provide for the recognition and promotion of other forms of education in the country. It was instituted through Republic Act 9155 or the Governance Act for Basic Education to provide the out of school children, youth and adults population with basic education

Source: Philippines News Agency