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Senate approves Alternative Learning System measure in hybrid session

With 22 affirmative votes via hybrid plenary session, the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the Alternative Learning Systems Act which seeks to provide alternative basic education programs outside the formal school system especially in underserved and far-flung communities, as well as in communities under emergencies.

Under Senate Bill No. 1365, the Alternative Learning System shall be institutionalized in the basic education for out-of-school youth, adults, and children in "special extreme cases." Budget shall also be allocated for it.

A viable informal and indigenous education tailored to the needs of the learners in different settings and circumstances must be provided, according to the proposed measure.

This bill also provides for the creation of the Bureau of Alternative Education under the Department of Education (DepEd) to serve as the focal office for the implementation of the parallel learning system.

According to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, principal author of the bill, this would also pave the way for the establishment of an ALS Community Learning Center in every city and municipality in the country and the opening of additional teaching positions for ALS facilitators.

"Kung bawat lungsod o munisipyo sa bansa ay magkakaroon ng ALS Community Learning Center, mas madali nating maaabot at mabibigyan ng dekalidad na edukasyon ang bawat Pilipinong napagkaitan ng pagkakataong tapusin ang kanilang pag-aaral," he said in a statement.

"Malaking hamon ito para sa lahat ng stakeholders lalo na’t pinaghahandaan natin ngayon ang tinatawag na new normal sa muling pagbubukas ng eskwela," he added.

There were over 700,000 learners enrolled and more than 10,000 facilitators employed in DepEd's ALS program in 2019, according to Gatchalian.

Different learning modalities via modules, digital platforms, radio or television-based instructions may be utilized to deliver education under the proposed law.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the passage of this bill would be timely, given the dilemma brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to the education sector.

"'Yan ang makakapagbigay po ng sistema para sa DepEd and CHED (Commission on Higher Education) to start working and studying from home. So mayroon na silang batas na magbibigay ng paraan na makaka-study from home," Zubiri said in a teleconference interview before the session started. -NB/BM, GMA News