Sun, 22 May 2022

MANILA - The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to expand resources and dedicated teachers to the Alternative Learning System (ALS), which has been one of the effective anti-poverty measures of the agency.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said a logical conclusion regarding increased poverty due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is to expand access to ALS.

"The pandemic likely forced many to stop from their classes, and many others will likely have to work to pay off pandemic debts," Salceda said. "The ALS has been a very attractive path for learners who cannot afford to go to conventional school, but want to attain diplomas. That source of demand has increased during the pandemic."

Salceda noted that under the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA), "at least" PHP559 million has been allotted under Flexible Learning Options (FLO) for the implementation of ALS programs, which include the delivery of ALS services, ALS Community Learning Centers, and for transportation and teaching aid allowance for ALS teachers and ALS community implementors.

"Since the GAA states that at least PHP559 million under the FLO item can be allotted to the ALS, we can allocate other items in that item towards ALS materials, he said.

He added that there is also PHP14.7 billion allotted for learning materials under flexible learning options in the DepEd budget.

He said the ALS can help close the skills gap, which is estimated at 2.4 million workers, due to Covid-19 school lockdowns, as well as reduce the impact on the economy of such a gap, which is estimated at PHP134 billion annually last year.

Salceda said he also wants the DepEd to produce a catch-up plan for the learning gaps incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said one measure that the DepEd must undertake is a National Learning Recovery Plan similar to the national government plans on employment recovery and economic growth.

"The learning gap is serious, especially as we are one of the few countries left in the world that has not yet reopened most of its schools," Salceda said. (PNA)

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