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Gatchalian: DepEd must strengthen ALS to help 4M students dropping out this year

Strengthening the Department of Education's (DepEd) Alternative Learning System (ALS) would address the non-participation of four million learners who did not enroll amid the pandemic, according to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday.

"Discouraging itong info na four million out of school. Madami tayong kabataan na maiiwanan. Right now we just have to strengthen our ALS," he told reporters in a virtual interview.

Chairing the Senate committee on basic education, Gatchalian said ALS is a "second chance" for many learners whose lives had been interrupted by the pandemic.

"Importante may mekanismo na sasalo sa kanila. Di puwedeng putulin 'yung paghihikayat na pumasok itong mga out of school youth," he said.

According to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, many of those who dropped out are students under the ALS whose jobs had been affected by COVID-19, as well as the children of displaced Overseas Filipino Workers.

Based on the DepEd data presented during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, there were over 23 million learners from Kindergarten to Grade 12 who enrolled for School Year 2020-2021 as of August 11.

Of these, 21.4 million enrolled in public schools, only 1.5 million in private schools, and more than 333,000 in the alternative learning system.

The enrollment turnout in ALS was only 45% compared to last year, while the headcount in private schools was only 36.1% of what it was before. — BM, GMA News