IN an effort to further expand the alternative learning system (ALS) program of the government, the Department of Education (DepEd) said it will give more allowances to ALS volunteer teachers starting next year to ensure that more out-of-school youth, particularly in far-flung areas, will be reached out.
GH Ambat, DepEd assistant secretary for public affairs service and alternative learning system, noted that part of expansion of the program is to provide financial support to mobile teachers who, most of the time, spend their own money just to reach out to out-of-school youth in remote villages and teach them how to read and write.
“We can easily expand the ALS program if we will provide them [mobile teachers]all the necessary assistance either by increasing their transportation allowance, their teaching allowance, or helping them to have a good career path so that we can encourage more teachers to teach in the alternative education,” Ambat told The Manila Times over the weekend.
DepEd data shows that around 517,000 ALS learners have completed the program in 2015, increasing to 691,000 the succeeding year.
“Hopefully we can double that [number], but we can go about that as long as we would be able to give the necessary support to our teachers who are implementing [the program]. Currently, the transportation allowance of our mobile teachers is P2,000 per month, and this amount is not enough if you’re riding a ‘habal habal’ or motorcycle taxi every day on the way to the mountains or riding a motorboat back and forth,” Ambat said.
“It wouldn’t be enough for the whole month and although, they do everything because they are [very]passionate for the learners some areas would not be reached out,” she added.
The DepEd official, however, cannot disclose how much will be the increase in allowances for the ALS teachers, although there is an ongoing study for it.
“We don’t have an exact amount yet, but we’re budgeting for that. We’re just waiting for the results of the survey so we can determine on how much would be the needed increase so that by next year we can incorporate that within the budget already,” Ambat said.
“We’re also tapping into a lot of our private sector partners to help our mobile teachers either, like for instance, by donating them laptops and projectors. And also, there are faith-based groups who want to implement the ALS program,” the DepEd official added.
According to Ambat, there is a significant shortage of ALS teachers.
“The DepEd mobile teachers are about 2,800 and then we have what we call DepEd-procured, they’re about 6,000. So overall, our ALS implementers on the field are about 9,000, including literacy volunteers [non-DepEd teachers] and partners, but it’s not enough,” she said.
For this year, the DepEd has allotted P637 million for the expansion of ALS program.
“It will cover about 800,000 [targeted]out-of-school youth, but it would exceed because it is the advocacy of the department and, of course, the President [Rodrigo Duterte] himself who wanted to expand the alternative education in the country,” Ambat said.
Ambat also said that the education department is now finalizing the informal education packages or skills and livelihood training packages for out-of-school youth taking up the ALS program, which makes them employable after graduating in high school.