EDUCATION Secretary Leonor Briones pushed for a vigorous implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) to bring education to more learners across the country.
Herself a product of informal basic education during World War 2, Briones said her passion for ALS is shaped by the advocacies of a non-government organization — Social Watch Philippines — where she was lead convenor, as well as her own life experiences. Social Watch’s main thrust is increasing people’s awareness and participation in promoting social development concerns with government.
Speaking before DepEd employees during her first flag ceremony at the DepEd central office in Pasig City, Briones said a person can get educated in a non-traditional way.
“The Department of Education had not invented ALS then but my own experience showed that one can get educated without formal schooling,” she recalled.
Briones shared that when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, a university in Southern Philippines founded by American missionaries closed its facilities and its American and Filipino faculty fled to the hills.
The teachers set up a jungle university and continued to teach the mountain communities even during the war.
She said her family also escaped to the hills where her mother, a teacher, gathered the children from the mountain villages and taught them how to read and write.
“My mother, who was a teacher, did not let the horrors of war deter her from teaching,” she explained.
She said students used banana leaves as writing pads and sharpened bamboo sticks as their improvised pen. She was three years old she listened to the lessons her mother imparted.
When the war ended, the children were tested to determine their grade equivalences.
“The district supervisor tested me and decided to promote me by two grades. And I was not even enrolled!” Briones said.
ALS is a kind of education delivery in a non-formal setting. Learning space can be a covered court, barangay hall, church yard or any other common area in a community where students can gather.
The ALS facilitators deliver lessons based on the capability of the learners. ALS is open to everyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.
Graduates of ALS who passed the Accreditation and Equivalency Test can get either an elementary or high school diploma and proceed to formal schooling if they so choose.