Not even the blackout has disheartened the 372 out-of-school youth as they march towards the stage of the Valenzuela City Center for the Performing Arts Auditorium last Wednesday, May 8, as Alternative Learning System (ALS) graduates
With synchronized clapping as an alternative for their background music, this year’s ceremony confirmed 17 passers from elementary level and 355 passers from secondary level, each has story to tell.
Leading the secondary level, is a 24 year-old doting mother of two, Josie A. Solutin from Barangay Mapulang Lupa.
“Akala ko noon,hindi na mangyayari pa ang pangarap na makapag-aral ako muli. Ngayon ay nandito ako sa harap ninyo upang ipakita ang pang`arap na natupad na.(Before, I thought that my dream to return to school will never come true. Now, I stand in front of you to show how that my dream has already materialized.)” She said while her little son cheers her on.
It all started when she saw the ALS Post at their barangay hall. She took classes with some hesitations because of her age and status as a mother. She recounted while shedding tears how she struggled attending to class held at a Community Learning Center located in their Barangay Hall with her two small children in tow.
The importance of education regardless of age and other circumstances was even testified by Palasan Barangay Kagawad Edward Tisado who is a 2009 ALS Passer.
Like Solutin, he was also hesitant to continue his studies due to the fact that he was already 33 years old at that time. He also felt embarrassed because he was eying a Barangay seat during that time and yet he was still at high school.
His desire to be educated pushed his doubts away. But his journey comes in a topsy-turvy route as problems hurdled his way. He was not able to attend numerous sessions because of family problems. In spite of that, he continued his march forward and was able to pass the equivalency exam then graduate. He was already working in Italy when he received his diploma.
ALS is a modular, ladderized non-formal education where the student is required to choose their schedule of availability. If a student never reached 1st grade to any grade schools before, they are automatically classified under the elementary school level. Students will be given modules to study. Like in ordinary school they are given tests which they have to pass and they will be assessed by either their mobile teacher or instructional manager.
After finishing the program, the students will take a qualifying examination covering all subjects. Successful examinees from both elementary and secondary level will be grouped together to take their diplomas in a closing ceremony.
The program covers mostly dropouts from elementary and secondary schools, out-of-school youths, non-readers, working people and even senior citizens wanting to learn reading and writing. Students enrolled under the classroom-system are disallowed to participate in the program. Age level, economic and personal circumstances are among the determinants in availing the program.
ALS is also fostered by different people who constantly helped the program. Dubbed as ALS Champions: they are Councilor Lorie Natividad- Borja, Councilor Gerald Espalana, Pamantasan ng Lungod ng Valenzuela President, Dr. Nedeña Torralba, and Manager of Consolidated Paper Products, Mr. Ramon Ching.
City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian is also consideres as an ALS Champion for initiating the course for the City Jail inmates named as the “Kakosa sa Karunungan” project. The City Government also allotted PhP 12 million solely for the course and a 4-storey ALS Center building near the Valenzuela Polytechnic (VALPOLY) campus Is now under construction.
“We decided to put the ALS Center near VALPOLY so the graduates can continue with their tertiary level schooling through vocational and four-year formal courses which the institution offers.” Mayor WIN said.
DepEd-NCR ALS Division Chief, Dr. Felicino Trongco also hailed Mayor WIN as the “Education Mayor,” stating that “Valenzuela is a good model for convergence. We can totally see that because your city is fortunate to have a very supportive education mayor like him.”