A high-ranking official of the Department of Education (DepEd) said they had a lower number of enrollees in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) this year compared to last year, as most of them continue to bear the brunt of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an interview with Daily Tribune, DepEd Assistant Secretary GH Ambat explained the low enrollment can be attributed to the current global health crisis, wherein most of out-of-school youths have discontinued their schooling to look for whatever jobs are available to augment their families’ income.
“The enrollment under ALS in the coming school year is low. We are just at 35 percent from last year’s figure. It went down because most of our learners, about 55 to 60 percent of our enrollees, are now working. Some of them did not even finish their studies because they belong to the informal sector, Ambat said.
“They are those who lost jobs when the economy and businesses went on a lockdown. They are the ones who most likely go home to the provinces. They are now prioritizing finding a means of living,” she added.
Ambat said a total of 297,284 students had enrolled in ALS as of Tuesday, 21 July, or 35 percent of the total number of enrollees last year.
“But we still expect this to go up when the school year officially starts. This is often the case. When the school year starts, when they see that there already are classes at the barangay hall, at church, or where there is ALS, that is when they come to enroll. Enrollment rises during the first and second quarters of the school year,” she explained.
However, the Education official expressed optimism that the number of adults and young dropouts who would enroll in the program will increase again in the next two or three years.
“ALS is aligned with K-to-12. They will gain knowledge and abilities through the program,” Ambat said.
“ALS is a second chance education of DepEd. They can come in at any point during the school year. We will not send them away just because enrollment is already over. We give them a chance even beyond the enrollment period,” she added.
DepEd describes ALS as a “parallel learning system” that can serve as a substitute for those who are unable to access formal education in schools.
More than 700,000 learners have enrolled in DepEd’s ALS program last year.