The second batch of Alternative Learning System (ALS) graduates through the “Kakosa sa Karunungan” project took their diplomas yesterday, July 3, proving that being behind bars could not hinder a dream of pursuing education. .
A testament to this is Lemwhell Eustaquio who topped the qualifying examinations making him the first honor of the batch. A doting father of two at a young age of 17, Lemwhell tried to make both ends meet for his family which was cut short when he was accused of a crime and was incarcerated.
During his imprisonment he found out that his wife left him for another man and their eldest daughter died of leukemia. These challenges in life encouraged him to use his time in prison wisely in preparation for a renewed life outside. He found faith in God, became a Jail Head Coordinator and eventually finished his secondary education inside as an ALS learner.
“Hindi dapat maging hadlang ang ano mang hindi mabuting kalagayan upang hindi matupad ang mga ninanais sa buhay. (Misfortunes should not become an obstacle to achieve your goals in life).” He said.
Mayor REX Gatchalian witnessed the achievement of the 12 graduates at two learning leverls - one from elementary and 11 from secondary level. “Sa aking anim na taon na careersa politika, ito na yata ang pinakakaunting estudyanteng nagtapos, pinakamaliit na venueat pinakamabilis na seremonya na aking napuntahan. Pero kahit ganoon, ito rin ang pinakaimportante at memorabledahil napatunayan natin na dito sa Valenzuela City, there are always second chances. (In the six years of my political career, this is the smallest number of graduates, the smallest venue and the fastest graduation I have ever attended. But despite that, this is also the most important and most meaningful because this proves that in Valenzuela City, there are always second chances.)” He said.
Also present to provide inspirational message is Barangay Palasan Kagawad Edward Tisado who is a 2009 ALS Passer. He is a living proof that there is no age limit in pursuing education as he was 33 years old when he graduated from high school.
The ALS “Kakosa sa Karunungan” project was spearheaded by Congressman Sherwin T. Gatchalian in 2010. It follows the same 11-month ladderized, modular format of ALS except that the sessions are conducted inside the city jail. Two mobile teachers handled the separate batches for elementary and secondary education.
This is in preparation for the ALS Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test composed of 300 points of multiple choice-type examination and an essay. The passing score for the exam is 95 points while the essay score must at least have a score of 2 points. Passers receive certificate of graduation equivalent to a diploma of a formal education, granting them the right and opportunity to continue their studies on a higher level.
Mayor REX hopes that by next year, the program will produce more graduates. “Kailangang next time, hindi na tayo kasya sa maliit na kwartong ito. Ang next batchng ALSGraduationnatin ay dapat gaganapin na sa mas malalaking pasibilidad natin. Iyan ang hamon ko sa inyo na sana, mas marami ang mag-participate. Mas marami ang magkaroon nang second opportunity at second chance.” (Next time, we must not fit to this little room already. The next batch of the ALS Graduation must be held in the bigger facilities we have. That is my challenge to all of you. I hope that more will participate So that more people will be given a second opportunity and a second chance.)” He ended.