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ALS Act a step to making education inclusive

THE enactment of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Act is a step towards achieving inclusivity of education, especially for vulnerable sectors and amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Save the Children Philippines said that Republic Act No. 11510 if implemented properly would provide access to education for children who cannot attend regular classes due to various circumstances.

Republic Act No. 11510 mandates the Department of Education (DepEd) in partnership with the Department of Budget and Management and the Civil Service Commission, to create teaching positions and corresponding salary grades to boost the existing ALS Teachers Program.

This would help outof-school youth — or young people who have opted out of their studies due to several problems like poverty, disability, geographical and infrastructure challenges, and ongoing conflict.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed the bill into law.

“Inclusivity is critical in upholding the right of every child to access quality education that will support the development of their personality, talents, mental and physical abilities and achieve their fullest potential,” Save the Children Philippines chief executive officer Atty. Alberto Muyot said.

“We welcome the enactment of the law that aims to address education and development needs of children and youth, and opens opportunities for context-specific learning models fit for the intersectional needs of learners,” he added.

According to DepEd, ALS was instituted as a “practical option to the existing formal instruction” — which means that people who lack access to formal education formats can still catch up through this mode.

As a response to the constitutional mandate to provide every Filipino the right to free basic education, ALS was created to service these individuals.

To ensure that education would be inclusive, Save the Children said that every Filipino student must get the support they need to allow them to catch up and match with their peers — especially during this time that normalcy was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Inclusive education means actively working to ensure that every child, irrespective of gender, language, ability, religion, nationality or other characteristics, is supported to meaningfully participate and learn alongside his/her peers, and develop to his/her full potential,” Save the Children said.

Children in disadvantaged sectors experience compounding issues on hunger and malnutrition, lack of access to learning, and are the most prone to abuses and exploitation. These are further exacerbated by the risks of COVID-19.