Alternative Learning System
The Alternative Learning System in the Philippines, abbreviated as ALS, is a program by the Department of Education that seeks to help Out of School Youths, industry-based workers, people with disabilities, former inmates, rebels, members of cultural minorities, and other people who, for one reason or another, cannot afford to go through formal schooling.
It was first launched in 1984 under the name Non-formal Education and was primarily focused on helping its students acquire technical skills that they can use to earn a living.
After getting its name changed into Alternative Learning System in 2004, its focus widened to include literacy classes that are aimed at eventually granting elementary and high school diplomas to deserving students who were forced to drop out of primary and secondary school.
Community Learning Centers
ALS classes are conducted at Community Learning Centers (CLCs). Each city or municipality has a number of CLCs that interested learners can go to. These CLCs can either be a public elementary or secondary school, a barangay hall, a room or building lent by a government agency or private company or organization, or any other vacant space where learners can gather together.
Each CLC has an assigned teacher called an Instructional Manager. Depending on whether they’re teaching a literacy class or a livelihood program, instructional managers can either be a licensed teacher employed by the Department of Education or certified practitioners of a specific craft such as professional reflexologists or dressmakers. If you have the spare time and the necessary qualifications, you can also volunteer to teach for any of the two programs.
ALS Accreditation and Equivalency Classes (ALS A&E) and Livelihood Programs
Students who are interested in enrolling in an ALS class are encouraged to visit Community Learning Centers. Once there, they will be asked whether they want to attend the literacy class (ALS A&E) or the livelihood program.
Students who want to take ALS A&E will be given an oral and written test to assess their competency level. From the result of the test, applicants will be grouped with either the elementary or high school level. If the applicant has not attended any formal schooling before, they will be enrolled in the Basic Literacy Program where they will be taught basic reading and computing skills before moving them to more advanced classes.
Classes are usually held everyday, although how many hours a day or how many days a week a student should show up for class depends on the Instructional Managers.
If there are other responsibilities that keep students from attending classes, they are allowed to take home free modules that they can study wherever and whenever they want. At the end of these modules are questions and exercises that the students must answer in order to evaluate how much they understood the lesson. After they’re done with the modules, they are asked to return them to their instructional managers so they can correct them.
Subjects of Study
ALS A & E classes are divided into five categories called learning strands. These include Communication Skills (English and Filipino), Problem Solving and Critical Thinking (Science and Mathematics), Sustainable Use of Resources and Productivity, Development of Self and A Sense of Community / Value of Collaboration, and Expanding One’s Own World Vision.
By integrating these five learning strands, ALS A & E students are not only taught academic skills such as reading, writing, and doing research, they are also taught practical things that they can use in everyday situations, especially in a diverse and challenging work environment.
Livelihood classes, on the other hand, teach them practical skills that they can use to earn a living. These include cooking, dressmaking, hairdressing, and handicraft making among other things.
In some cases, ALS A&E classes are reinforced with skills training in order to help the learners become well-rounded individuals while keeping the lessons varied and interesting at the same time.
Duration of the Program
The ALS A & E classes takes a minimum of 800 hours to complete; however, this may change every now and then depending on the progress of the students.
By contrast, the duration of the livelihood program greatly varies depending on the specific skill being learned — going anywhere from three days up to several months or more.
Assessment and Evaluation
Just like traditional students, ALS A & E students are also given summative tests to assess their understanding of the things that have been taught to them. These tests come in the form of multiple-choice, fill in the blanks, and essay type questions that the students must answer based on what they’ve learned.
After they’ve graduated from the class, students are then encouraged to take the Alternative Learning System Accreditation & Equivalency Test in order to get certificates that are equivalent to diplomas received by traditional elementary and high school graduates. Following are links for Alternative Learning System Accreditation & Equivalency Test 2012 and ALS Frequently Asked Questions.
Students of the livelihood programs also go through assessment and evaluation. They do this by taking TESDA’s National Certification (NC) exam for the skill they tried to learn. By passing this exam, they can get certifications that will make them eligible for employment both here and abroad.