The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Education (FEd), in cooperation with the Nonformal Education Area of the UP College of Education (UPCEd), will hold a webinar entitled “Voices of ALS Teachers” on 15 September 2020, from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM via Zoom. The webinar will serve as Episode 14 of the ongoing UPOU Podcast Series, “Edu-Hack: Navigating through a Turbulent Educational Landscape”, one of UPOU’s many efforts to aid Philippine education institutions in their transition to online teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also part of the FEd’s EDUKussion Forum Series, that aims to present and discuss education-related issues, challenges and opportunities. Through this particular webinar, Alternative Learning System (ALS) educators and teachers will be given a platform to impart their knowledge and help teachers in the formal education system adapt to these various methods of teaching and learning.

In the Philippines, ALS is another learning system that anyone can opt for when they are devoid of or are unable to access formal basic education in schools. Given that every Filipino has a right to free basic education, the government established ALS and its implementation in accordance with Article XIV, Section 2, Paragraphs (1) and (4) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that “provides for the recognition and promotion of other forms of education other than formal education.” Through The Governance Act for Basic Education or Republic Act 9155, ALS was then established “to provide out-of-school children, youth and adults population with basic education.”

According to the official website of the Department of Education (DepEd), two major ALS programs continue to be implemented in the country through the Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS); these programs are the Basic Literacy Program and the Continuing Education Program – Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E). Both modular-based and flexible in nature, these programs allow students to learn anytime and anywhere, with proper coordination between them and their facilitators. While the formal education system is strictly classroom-based in instruction, ALS non-formal education is community-based; this means that learning can take place at home, which is imperative in a time of mandatory social distancing and widespread community quarantines.

Throughout the years, ALS has proved to be inclusive and comprehensive, as educators and teachers have taught lessons on basic education and conducted skills training programs depending on their assigned students’ learning needs and personal demographics. Given the need to adjust to their students’ respective circumstances, ALS educators and teachers have long made use of learning modules and supplementary learning materials. While those for basic and lower elementary level learners have been designed with a truly hands-on approach, modules for higher levels have been created for self-learning. Now, with the Senate’s recent approval of Senate Bill 1365 or the ALS Act, ALS will be made more readily available for learners to enroll in given the ‘new normal.’ Under this is the need for the improvement and wider use of various learning modalities; however, not just in ALS but in the formal education system as well. Considering their familiarity and expertise in module-based teaching, ALS teachers can help teachers in the formal education system understand what they must do to adapt.

For this webinar, several ALS teachers and/or coordinators from different parts of the country will talk about vital topics related to the effective implementation of ALS in any community:

Ms. Caren D. Moscoso, the ALS Education Program Specialist of DepEd Schools Division Office (SDO) – Negros Occidental, will be the first speaker whose topic will focus on “Radio Based Instruction in the ALS: The Negros Occidental Experience.”

The second batch of speakers composed of Mr. Joaquin Olitoquit, an ALS Volunteer,  and Ms. Rosa Alma V. Olitoquit, a District ALS Coordinator of DepED SDO – Camarines Sur, will discuss “Building Empowering Partnerships: ALS + LGU + Community.”

Ms. Shalimar G. Tamayao, an ALS Mobile Teacher III of DepEd SDO – Navotas, will be the third speaker who will expound on “Promising Practices in Portfolio Assessment.”

The fourth and final speaker, Mr. Rejulios M. Villenes, the Public Schools District Supervisor of DepED SDO – Quezon, will then discuss “Resource Mobilization for ALS.”

An open forum will be facilitated by Ms. Marilou Merino, also an ALS teacher of DepEd SDO-Imus City.

All speakers for this webinar were recommended by Asst. Prof. Mercedes “Ched” Arzadon, MA Program Adviser of the Nonformal Education Program and Faculty Member of the College of Education, University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman. Ma’am Ched, as known to many, is a Special Education Major with a Masters in Nonformal Education, both of which she earned from UP-Diliman. Throughout the years, she has involved herself in the facilitation of various research-related projects and wrote several papers/book chapters/articles that focus on observations, problem areas and improvements that need to be made in ALS and non-formal education systems in the country as a whole. While she is currently a PhD in Education candidate of Anthropology/Sociology of Education, Ma’am Ched continues to do her part in uplifting the state of ALS in the country as an online tutor and site administrator of the Alternative Learning System Facebook Group for ALS Students. Most recently, she was also a Member of the Technical Working Group for Senate Bill 740 (Institutionalizing the Alternative Learning System).

As the pioneer and former Program Chair of the UPOU Bachelor of Education Studies (BES), Ma’am Ched handles several courses of the undergraduate program as she continues to serve in her capacity as an Affiliate of UPOU:

EDS 106 (UPOU) – Language Culture and Education

EDS 130 (UPOU) – Introduction to Alternative Education Systems

EDS 102 (UPOU) – Social Foundations of Education

Given the UPOU Faculty of Education’s aim to contribute to the achievement of quality education and lifelong learning for all, the BES program is designed to equip its graduates with the necessary knowledge and skills for them to teach in and improve the quality of alternative education systems such as ALS. To date, UPOU has a total of 17 BES graduates and a total of 97 newly admitted students.

Written by Ms. Krista Marie L. Fama

E-flyer design by Ms. Lovelyn Petrasanta