House leader calls for expansion of alternative learning system
MANILA – The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to increase resources and teachers dedicated to the alternative learning system (ALS), which has been one of the measures effective in the agency’s fight against poverty.
Albay representative Joey Salceda said a logical conclusion regarding the increase in poverty due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is to expand access to ALS.
“The pandemic has likely forced many of them off school, and many more will likely have to work to pay off their pandemic debts,” Salceda said. “ESL has been a very attractive pathway for learners who cannot afford to go to conventional school, but want to earn degrees. This source of demand has increased during the pandemic.”
Salceda noted that under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2022, “at least” PHP559 million has been allocated under Flexible Learning Options (FLO) for the implementation of ESL programs, which include the provision of ESL services, ESL community learning centers and for transportation and educational support allowance for ALS teachers and community ALS implementers.
“Since the GAA stipulates that at least 559 million PHP under the FLO element can be attributed to ALS, we can allocate other elements of this element to ALS materials,” he said.
He added that PHP 14.7 billion was also allocated for learning materials under flexible learning options in the DepEd budget.
He said ALS can help fill the skills gap, which is estimated at 2.4 million workers, due to Covid-19 school closures, as well as reduce the impact on the saving such a gap, which is estimated at PHP 134 billion per year last year. .
Salceda said he also wanted the DepEd to produce a remedial plan for the learning gaps incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said one measure the DepEd needs to undertake is a national learning recovery plan similar to the government’s national plans on jobs recovery and economic growth.
“The learning deficit is serious, especially since we are one of the few countries in the world that has not yet reopened most of its schools,” Salceda said. (NAP)