By Jeffrey Tiburcio Lopez, ALS Mobile Teacher – Zaragoza District
The delivery of Alternative Learning System (ALS) in public schools in the
division has been very challenging even before the global health crisis struck the whole
educational process. More so, it became heavily bombarded as the pandemic shook
the conviction of the department in providing quality, complete and equitable basic
education to the target clienteles of the program. And for this noble mission to be an
integral part in shaping the future of our nation, Department of Education (DepEd) –
Division of Nueva Ecija concerted their efforts in holding this program tight for survival
to serve its purpose.
ALS learners were hardly hit by the pandemic. Generally, ALS learners are the
out of school youth who are working while studying. Their common jobs are baby-
sitting, domestic helping, selling, ambulant vending and construction works. Some of
them were also engaged in public transport utilities such as driving tricycle. And since
the local government has implemented stringent measures to prevent the spread of
Covid 19 disease in the province, some of them laid off their work. This became a
burden to them. Practically, they work for their family. They need their hard- earned
money to support their families because most of their parents cannot work. This posed
as a serious problem because motivation will decrease if the foundation of the
hierarchy of needs will not be satisfied.
In reality, ALS learners could be familiar with distance education because even
before, they already learn distantly. They don’t go to school every day during the old
normal. They are also accustomed with modular learning which is the special feature
of the program. They just attend classes every weekend or they just get their modules
and study at home. They also use services such as texting and online messaging to
communicate with their teachers to receive instructional and supplemental activities.
However, when most of them lost their jobs, they cannot subsidize such educational
expenses anymore in as much as they want to provide the needs of their families.
They find it hard to buy load for mobile data to contact their teachers and classmates.
Moreover, they have nothing to spend for transportation in going to school to receive
and submit their modules. Can these learners survive and achieve the completion of
formal basic education that they have been dreaming of?
The DepEd and some of its external stakeholders-initiated measures to help
the ALS learners amidst pandemic. They trained teachers and subjected them to
webinars to continue to deliver quality education to ALS learners through resiliency
and creativity amidst COVID 19 pandemic.
They capitalized on enriching the curriculum and in developing learning delivery
modes which are suitable and convenient to learners. They focused on blended
learning which facilitates the learners’ active involvement in education through
television (TV) and radio programs. These programs are designed to deliver the most
essential learning competencies to the learners in order to continue the education
even amidst the pandemic. The teachers in charge of ALS monitored the learning of
the students through constant assessment and continuous supervision.
They also strengthened the partnership of DepEd with internal and external
stakeholders in which the community was greatly responsible. They started tapping
parents and other professionals who are also working from home to volunteer a little
of their time, treasure and expertise to assist the learners in the community so that
they don’t have to go to school to get their learning materials. This was done, of course,
with great consideration on the health and safety of both the learners and their
facilitators. Meanwhile, DepEd’s Undersecretary Tonisito Umali also emphasized in a
webinar last March 2021 that ALS teachers must deliver education with the inclusivity
of learners who belong to indigenous groups in the locality. He also pointed out that
the department will orchestrate its effort in promoting literacy especially in developing
good reading habits among ALS learners.
This COVID- 19 global health crisis may have been hard on the ALS program
of the Department of Education but for as long as ALS learners are willing to learn in
spite of all the challenges of life magnified by this pandemic, DepEd will give them the
opportunity to survive and prosper.