Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded the signing of Republic Act 11510 which institutionalizes the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and improves the delivery of basic education to the underserved and disadvantaged as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis continues to impact the operation of schools across the country and while accessing quality education remains a challenge for some.
“Education is a constitutionally enshrined right which the State must protect and promote. Thus, ensuring education for all should be a top priority. For this to be achieved, it is vital that opportunities to learn and receive quality education are accessible to all those who so desire,” Go said.
Go who is a co-author of the new law which provides the support lacking for typically underrepresented students, such as indigenous students, students from less privileged backgrounds, and students with physical and learning disabilities.
The Senate version, Senate Bill No. 1365, was principally authored and sponsored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. On the other hand, House Bill No. 6910 was principally authored and sponsored by Representative Aurelio D. Gonzales Jr.
Based on the signed law, the ALS is more conducive to a non-traditional student’s academic success as it takes into consideration their specific needs and concerns.
It provides them with specialized programs and alternative education approaches and strategies which they otherwise would not be able to receive within the formal learning system.
Specifically, students can develop knowledge, skills and selected competencies through a combination of learning modalities, including face-to-face learning sessions, modular instruction, digital instruction and workshops, among others.
Upon completing their programs, students must undergo accreditation and equivalency (A&E) assessments which will be conducted by the Department of Education (DepEd) at the national and local level.
Students who pass the elementary level A&E may enroll in junior high school. Those who pass junior high school A&E can apply for senior high school or a selected education and training program offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Students who pass the senior high school A&E are qualified for higher education.
Specially-trained ALS instructors will provide face-to-face learning sessions in Community Learning Centers or DepEd-run schools (when not in use by regular students). The education department and local government units are mandated under the law to establish at least one center in every city and municipality.
The law also directs the establishment of a Bureau of Alternative Education which serves as DepEd’s focal office for ensuring the proper implementation of the ALS programs.
At the same time, Go also served as a co-author of SBN 1907, otherwise known as an ‘Act Instituting Services and Programs for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education’. The measure aims to enhance the quality of education in the formal learning sector by providing free support services as well as programs that are tailored to the needs of differently-abled learners.
It mandates the implementation of a Child Find System, a scheme for locating and evaluating learners with disabilities who have not received basic education services, and facilitating their inclusion into the general education system.
The Senator also filed SBN 396 in 2019 which seeks to amend the Local Government Code of 1991 by expanding the application of the Special Education Fund. This allows local government units to maximize their resources and adopt new education policies and learning techniques. The measure also allows the fund to be used in the operation of the ALS, including the payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of ALS teachers.
Go expressed confidence that government would effectively expand access to and improve the delivery of education and skills training. It would also strengthen the Philippine workforce by providing the proper conditions so they can compete successfully in the global market.
“Amid the ongoing health crisis, we should continue to look for ways to ease the mental, emotional and financial burdens of our students and their families. Hangad natin ay hindi lang mas maraming estudyanteng nag-aaral. Target din natin na mas maraming nakakapagsitapos ng pag-aaral,” Go added.
The ALS Act was also co-authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Nancy Binay, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Ronald dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Manuel Lapid, Imee Marcos, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Ramon Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, and Cynthia Villar. In the Lower House, it was co-authored by numerous representatives, led by House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez.
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