Is finishing ALS really that easy? Before going on, may I refresh your memory, Alternative Learning System (ALS) is an educational system that is equivalent to the formal school system which gives chance to out of school youths (OSYs) or out of school adults (OSAs) to finish their elementary or junior high school education. They have to enroll and go through an assessment. Further, it’s a need for them to attend the learning sessions regularly, do the activities prepared for them, complete their portfolio, register for the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test and pass it to be able to acquire a diploma that is equivalent to an elementary or junior high school graduate. As part of the enrollment process, youths and adults who want to join the program are being interviewed.
It is heartbreaking to know the reasons of some why they dropped from the formal school system. In contrary, it is quite irritating to hear from youths or adults, though not all, that they want to enroll in the program because they wanted to finish their elementary or junior high school in a shorter period of time. Some also say that they wanted to catch up with their batch mates who are already ahead of them and so they will not be laughed at. There are some parents and guardians who affirm the earlier statements when asked. Some also declare that their expenses for the education of their child will be lessened because ALS is the “short cut” to basic education. One of the funniest yet saddest answers I’ve heard was the fact that some families enrolled their children in the program to get rid of the thousands of pesos accumulated tuition fees from a private school, since they no longer have the capacity to pay. Silly answers, they think ALS is just a refuge for delinquent tuition fee payers and easy or “just, just”. This made me realize how little other stakeholders think about ALS. They think that enrolling and passing the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test requires less effort, time and dedication or focus.
Enrolling in and finishing the program, learning the needed competencies and passing the test requires time, great effort, diligence and determination. If an OSY or OSA does not possess these qualities and will just enroll to stay away from the responsibilities at home, obligations from a private school, wants to have a daily allowance, wishes to find for a boyfriend/ girlfriend or just likes to kill the time, he/ she is wasting the chance and privilege given to him to finish elementary or junior high school. As one of the ALS Mobile Teachers in the city, I am always willing to make possible the noble objectives of ALS to be of service and to give chance to OSYs and OSAs to attain their goals and that someday, they will make a difference and be productive in their family and the community. I hope that these objectives will not be spoiled by the misconceptions of some stakeholders. JULIET DONATO-PIOK, Alternative Learning System-Lucban District
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