Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SOCIAL SERVICES: ALTERNATIVE LEARNING SYSTEM FOR THE OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTH

(by:  Mary Grace C. Baywong, Shula Mae Ayangwa , Clarissa Joy Camara,  Georgie Mae Gongob, Bryone Mae Himmiwat, Rhodell Naz)


Abstract
The general objective of this study is to define, describe and explain existing stakeholders’ perception of the strengths and weaknesses of the social services offered by the government to the Out-of-school Youth. The study aims to identify the problems or challenges experienced by the learners while enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program and lastly, to identify self-discoveries of the learners that lead to self-realizations for the betterment of their economic, social and cultural conditions.  This study’s respondents included all of the learner-enrolees of ten-month period education under the Alternative Learning System in Baguio Central School, Quezon Elementary School and Puguis Elementary School, enrolled for School Year 2011. Structured questionnaires were distributed to the 188 learners and interviews were conducted as data gathering tools. Simple distribution and mean was utilized to treat the gathered data.          The results of the study intend to contribute to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the instructional delivery system of the Alternative Learning System towards
the students; to promote learning opportunities for the students; and to improve instruction qualities for the students.  Results reveal the respondents perception of minimal support for the entire implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.  The ALS program is perceived to have provided full support to the learners in its main objective on the instruction and education of the respondents.  Moderate support from government was perceived to be received for facilities, equipments and the publishing and printing of bulletins.  Slight support was received for social integration of the learners and facilitation of parent’s forum.  According to the learners, they received no support for income generation, medical health and provisions for day care centers that are not the major components of the ALS implementation.   The challenge and problem encountered by the learners while enrolled at the Alternative Learning System Center that is moderately severe is the financial problems of the learners and the implementers.  Slightly severe problems encountered by the learners are their personal, family and peer relations problems, the lack of government supplementary support and methods of teaching in the school. Generally all of the learners believe that the ALS education shall aid them in their competency for a college education or for employment opportunities in the future. Most of the respondents agree that the knowledge acquired from the ALS education is functional in their home and for survival in the society. Majority of the respondents believe that their education shall improve the quality of their life.  More than half of the respondents reveal that they seldom think of regretting their being part of the ALS program.  In this area of objective of the non formal education or alternative learning, it has, in part, complied with its aim in the development of the individual to become self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-disciplined to participate in all activities and become  productive citizens in their national  development efforts not only their lives but the state as a whole.
Keywords: social service, Alternative learning, out-of-school  youth, learners, stakeholders

           
INTRODUCTION

            Around the world, there are many children who have been severely economically and socially deprived, who have suffered emotional or physical traumas or who have disabilities. Often these children are subject to child labor and other forms of exploitation. (Alternative Learning System, 2008)
            In today’s increasingly complex world, the number of people who encounter problems regarding education has rapidly increased. It is because a lot of out of-school youths are not attending school caused by learning impotency while others are not succeeding because of exceeding deprivations. These deprivations lend the majority to blame other people, the institution and the government. They believe that there would be no illiterate if there is no poverty that is the outcome of different problems. Because poverty has not easily been solved, the students preferred dropping out of school or not having education at all.
            It is the responsibility of the State to provide social welfare and social services to its citizenry as embodied in Article XVI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all. One of the social service mechanisms of the government through education is the Alternative Learning System (ALS) formerly called Non Formal Education (NFE). Republic Act 9155 stipulates the Alternative Learning System (ALS) as a free parallel learning system to provide a viable alternative to the existing formal education instruction, encompassing both the non-formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills. This is a relative new idea in the Philippine educational system in order to prevent the increase of illiteracy in our country. This program aims to open more educational opportunities for Filipino citizens of different interests, capabilities, demographic characteristics, socioeconomic origins and status as well as addressing the needs of the marginalized sectors of the population. It is a new development that requires a paradigm shift in the people’s perceptions of delivering basic education. The Bureau of Non Formal Education of the Department of Education was renamed as the Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) by virtue of Executive Order No. 356 dated September 13, 2004. (ALS Division, DepEd, CAR, 2006). As a learning system, it is parallel and comparable to formal education for the reason that it has learning strands based on the learning competencies which one can both address the goals of the Education for All (EFA).
            In recent studies, it was revealed that one of the justifications why Alternative Learning System is very effective is because the system is concerned not just with academic achievement of the learners but also with the acquisition of life skills and functional literacy. (Felipe, 2006) In another study, there is much to be done to make Alternative Learning System program effective in developing livelihood and life-long skills of clientele which they can use to improve their quality of life. (Bogwana, September 2006). Livelihood programs focus on the learner’s needs and interests that alleviate socio-economic situation of the learners. The realization of community development rests on the citizens who have opted to strengthen their moral and social values as avenues to economic life. (Paydo-en, 2007).
            The schools involved in the implementation of the ALS are the Quezon Elementary School, Baguio Central School in the City of Baguio and Puguis Elementary School in La Trinidad, Benguet. According to the supervisor of the Bureau of Alternative Learning System, in September of 2010, 690 out-of-school youth availed of the Alternative Learning System Program of the government. The enrollees have to attend 10 months of school or 800 school hours. Instead of teachers, facilitators and lecturers are present. Thereafter, students shall take the Accreditation and Equivalency Test (AET). If they pass the test, they will be given a high school diploma and can enroll in college.
            The systems theory and the theory of functionalism shall be applied in order to understand the dynamic interrelations between individuals, families, institutions and societies in this study. (Hepworth, 2010). The researchers intend to identify how the ALS as a system functions, what aspects of that system have a negative impact on people and understand how they can cause positive change in that system. The application of the Systems Theory and the Structural Functional Approach shall assist in the understanding of the social structure of the ALS, and attempt to advocate for the implementation or the amendment of existing policies and programs as it aims to promote social justice, economic prosperity, equality and high standards of living within the communities.

FINDINGS

The respondent-stakeholders are dominantly single in marital status, male, with a dominant age between the ranges of 21-25 years old and have been to some extent enrolled in high school before enrolling in the ALS program.  A larger number of the enrolled students (88.3%) of ALS program is Cordilleran and a few (11.70%) are Visayan in ethnic origin




Table 1. The degree of stakeholders perception of government support to Alternative Learning System for the Out-of-school Youth
Support
1- no support

 

Frequency          %
2-slight support


Frequency          %
3-moderate support


Frequency           %
4-full support


Frequency          %
Arithmetic Mean
Level of Support

Information Dissemination

65                   34.57
81                   43.09
31                   16.49
11                    5.85
0.86
Slight Support
Facilities and equipments
27                    4.36
62                   32.98
92                   48.94
7                       3.72
1.47
Moderate Support
Publishing and printing of bulletins
41                   21.80
61                   32.45
74                   39.36
12                     6.38
1.18
Moderate Support
Assistance for projects on the following:
ALS for the Out-of-School Youth
5                       2.6
15                   7.98
34                   18.09
134                 71.28
2.85
Full Support
Income Generation

100                 53.19
40                   21.28
27                   14.36
21                   11.17
0.53
No Support
Medical Health

110                 58.51
38                   20.21
26                   13.83
14                     7.45
0.59
No Support
Social Integration

69                   36.70
77                   40.96
70                   37.23
35                   18.62
0.82
Slight Support
Values Formation

33                   17.55
56                   29.79
96                   51.06
30                   15.96
1.53
Moderate Support
Providing venue for support to day care centers
115                 61.17
27                   14.36
24                   12.77
20                   10.64
0.61
No Support
Facilitation of parent’s forum
44                   23.40
95                   50.53
62                   32.98
17                     9.04
1.01
Slight Support




Weighted Mean

1.15
Slight Support

Table 1 exhibits the supplemental activities as part of the implementation of the ALS Program.  With a weighted mean of 1.15, the respondents perceived minimal or slight support for the entire implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.  The ALS program is perceived to have provided full support to the learners in its main objective on the instruction and education of the respondents.  Moderate support from government was perceived to be received for facilities, equipments and the publishing and printing of bulletins.  Slight support was received for social integration of the learners and facilitation of parent’s forum.  According to the learners, they received no support for income generation, medical health and provisions for day care centers that are not the vital components of the ALS implementation.  On account of the Functionalist Approach, social services attribute to government through the ALS Program of the Departments of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), the manifest function of education of its people to supply enough quality manpower for the society.  The latent function of income generation, medical health and day care centers belong to other departments and agencies of the state.
The government has focused on instruction or education, the vital component of the ALS program for the Out-of-school Youth. The other supplementary areas in the ALS have not been prioritized. Majority of the students enrolled in the ALS revealed that the facilities and equipments (tables, chairs, blackboards and classrooms) are enough for each and everyone to use and that they are maintained and upgraded. On the other hand, one third of the stakeholders say that this facilities and equipments are deficient for everyone. This implies that more students who are taking ALS are contented and comfortable with their school facilities and equipments. Similar to the ALS program in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, it has met the learning objectives of the program and were responsive to the knowledge and skills to be developed in all levels of literacy program because the facilities were sufficient for everybody. (Puyao 2001)
           
Table 2. The challenges/problems encountered while enrolled at the Alternative Learning System Center.
Problems/Challenges
Arithmetic Mean
Level of Seriousness
Financial problem
0.69
Moderately Severe
Personal, family or peer relations
0.74
Slightly Severe
Lack of government support
0.73
Slightly Severe
Institution (methods of teaching)
0.78
Slightly Severe
Weighted Mean
0.73
Slightly Severe

There are challenges encountered by the learners while enrolled at the Alternative Learning System Center. Shown in Table 2, financial problem was the challenge encountered by the learners and implementers at the Alternative Learning System Center.  This was considered by them as moderately severe.  Financial problems were the main reason for the learners’ state as being out-of-school and consequently for enrolling in a free educational program offered by government.  They have likewise attributed the non-implementation of other supplementary programs of the ALS to the lack of funds of the Bureau of Alternative Learning System. Slightly severe problems encountered by the learners are their personal, family or peer relations, the lack of government supplementary support and methods of teaching in the school.  According to the study of Bogwana (2007) which says that there are problems that hinder the full implementation of ALS curriculum which needs the immediate attention of the proper authorities and the implementers of ALS Curriculum. Lack of fund to purchase, produce and learning materials was mainly responsible for the inadequacy of materials needed in the implementation of ALS curriculum. The problems encountered by NFE implementers vary in accordance with the program conducted and their educational background (Copsiyan, 2001).  The difficulty of the respondent-stakeholders with the methods of teaching has been attributed by them to the period of interruption in their schooling that necessitates difficult adjustments to school work.
The study has revealed that majority of the respondents claim that there is no support coming from the government in terms of providing solutions to problems being encountered while being enrolled at the ALS center.  The government has not provided financial assistance and has not been mindful of the personal problems of the learners, including their difficulty in coping with the methods of instruction. Less than a half of the learners find the methods of teaching and manner of delivery of the lessons as very effective.  Majority of the learners have ascribed inefficiency of instructions to their difficulty in coping with new ideas and knowledge rather than on the inadequacies of the facilitators of the center.



Table 3.1.  Factors that influence respondents to enrol in the ALS Center


Frequency
Percentage (%)
The goal to finish study and have a good future
144
76.59
Additional knowledge
10
5.31
To solve financial problems
17
9.04
Advice of parents
6
3.19
For honour and dignity
3
1.60
Influence of friends
3
1.60
Personal interest
5
2.66
TOTAL
                    188
                  100.00%


Majority of the learners intend to pursue a college education and have envisioned themselves as professionals in the future and to become economically stable. Being an Out-of-school Youth, they have varied triggers in life that have influenced their decision to enrol in the ALS Center like catching up on lost time to be educated before they become over aged to pursue a college degree, to add honour and dignity to themselves and a few intend to work  to solve their financial challenges. The youth is the hope of the future that is why free education is given which they can use in fighting poverty. They are aware of the mission of Alternative Learning System, which is to empower the Filipino with desirable knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will enable them to think critically and creatively, act innovatively and humanely in improving the quality of their lives and that of their families, community and country.

Table 3.2  The benefits acquired as learners-stakeholders in the Alternative Learning System Program

Benefits
Frequency
Percentage (%)
Acceleration
68
36.17
Certificate
27
14.36
Development and improvement of knowledge, skills and good values
37
19.68
Have a good future and descent  job
68
36.17
Free books and other school supplies
24
12.77
TOTAL
188
100


Respondents view the Alternative Learning System to be beneficial to the Out-of-school Youth.  One third of the respondents believe that they will eventually have a good future and a descent job through acquisition of a good education.  The out-of-school youth have availed of the free education program implemented by the Department of Education under the Bureau of Alternative Learning System which benefits them, who cannot afford formal schooling. ALS students have to attend 10 months of school or 800 hours in the classroom. After several months, the students will take the Accreditation and Equivalency Test.  They intend to pursue their education in the ALS center with the intention of being accelerated to a higher year level and consequently finish their secondary education in a shorter period in the event of passing the accreditation and equivalency test.  The ALS Accreditation and Equivalency Test or ALS A&E test aims to offer learners two learning achievements at two learning levels- Elementary and High school or Secondary level. It is a paper and pencil-based test, using multiple choice and composition writing. The test items are based on the learning competencies of the five learning strands of the ALS Curriculum.  Only a few respondents considered the material aspect of the ALS system.  Despite considering their financial challenges impacting on their education, most of the respondents value the effect of their education more than the challenges experienced and means by which it is accomplished.  They view their ALS education not as end in itself but a means for the progress and development of their lives.




Table 3.4.  Alternative Learning System is helpful to the Out-of-school Youth

Frequency


Yes          No

TOTAL
Percentage


Yes           No
TOTAL
1. Improvement in the quality of life

188           0
188
100           0
100
2. ALS education can aid in terms of job application in the future

182           6
188
96.80       3.2
100
3. Helps them to have a better perspective in life

140          9
188
74.47       4.79
100
4.  ALS education is functional
174           14
188
92.55      7.45
100


            All of the learners claim that studying in ALS help improve their quality of life. The stakeholders have a perception that after taking up ALS, they will be able to help themselves to develop their capabilities towards the progress of their lives. This is an opportunity for the Out-of-school Youth to discover themselves more. According to the study of Lingbayan (2005) , ALS Program is aimed in the development of the individual to become self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-disciplined to participate in all activities and become a productive citizen in the national  development efforts not only their life but the government as a whole.  ALS Program is aimed at providing an alternative pathway of learning for OSY and adults who are basically literate but who have not completed 10 years of basic education as mandated by the constitution. Through this program, school dropouts are able to complete elementary and high school education outside the formal school system.  
            A quarter of the learners of Alternative Learning System program agree that the education they are receiving in the ALS Center helped change their perspective in life because they are able to apply the knowledge on values formation in their homes and to their own community and in that way, they become more responsible not only to themselves but also to the society where they live in. The Out-of-school Youth is one of the strategic concerns and a significant target component of human resources and development program. They can be catalysts of change in their society and agent of modernization applying what they learned in Alternative Learning Centers.
            Majority of the learners never regret that they have enrolled at the ALS center. Most of them have the desire to finish their secondary education. On the contrary, less than half of the respondents would sometimes feel regret and would almost give up due to financial, personal and family reasons and problems. Most of them have tried to apply for jobs and some have been employed in odd jobs.  They have come to realize the benefits of being educated.  They intend to qualify themselves in order to increase the chances of having better paying jobs and eventually to be able to support themselves and their families.  Many of them have experienced being rejected despite their desire to have a job.  According to them, the employers prefer the more educated applicants than those who have less education.  Some of them revealed that they regret having to drop out from school.  According to them they have reached realizations in life and are remorseful of the time that they have not been serious in the pursuit to finish their secondary education. 
The Functionalist perspective attribute the existence of social problems, like the out-of school youth conditions to a dysfunctional system. The Philippine Educational system aims to produce competent and able graduates to equip the younger population with the capacity to provide manpower resource which eventually prevents low production, unemployment and inflation in the society.  This shall alleviate poverty, preventing Filipino families from living below the poverty line.  The educational system can prevent moral decadence and spiritual degeneration.  Failure on the part of the Alternative Learning System programs can greatly harm other institutions like the economy, family and the church.  The interest of the learners-stakeholders in availing of the ALS program services is viewed to subsequently improve their life conditions and prevent further societal problems.

Table 4.7 Community Development through the ALS

Frequency
Percentage (%)
Yes
186
98.94
No
2
1.06
TOTAL
188
100


The objectives of ALS programs are geared towards the improvement in the quality of life in a community. Programs focus on learners’ needs and interests that alleviate socio-economic situation of the learners. The realization of community development rests on the citizens who have opted to strengthen their moral and social values as avenues to economic development. Job satisfaction arises from one’s optimum knowledge and skills in one’s vocation.  Almost all of the stakeholders agree that the ALS programs can develop the community.  Based on the research findings, the stakeholders believe that with the necessary skills and knowledge to be acquired, the ALS program can improve their socio-economic life as long as they will be able to find a decent and good paying job in the future.  The study of Bogwana (2007) revealed that for the stakeholders, there is much to be done in the implementation of the program itself to make ALS program effective and responsive in developing livelihood and life-long skills of clientele which they can use to improve their quality of life.


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

            This study was designed to define, describe and explain existing stakeholders’ perception of the strengths and weaknesses of the social services offered by the government to the Out-of-school Youth. The study aims also to identify the problems or challenges experienced by the learners while enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program and lastly, to identify self-discoveries of the learners that lead to self-realizations for the betterment of their economic, social and cultural conditions.
The study reveals that the respondents perceived minimal or slight support for the entire implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.  The ALS program is perceived to have provided full support to the learners in its main objective on the instruction and education of the respondents.  Moderate support from government was perceived to be received for facilities, equipments and the publishing and printing of bulletins.  Slight support was received for social integration of the learners and facilitation of parent’s forum.  According to the learners, they received no support for income generation, medical health and provisions for day care centers that are supplementary components of the ALS implementation.  On account of the Functionalist Approach, social services attribute to government through the ALS Program of the Departments of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), the manifest function of education of its people to supply enough quality manpower for the society.  The latent function of income generation, medical health and day care centers as embodied in the ALS program are separate components and programs in cooperation with other lead agencies and departments of government as well as with non-government organizations.          
The learners consider financial problems as a moderately severe challenge while enrolled at the Alternative Learning System Center.  Financial problems were the main reason for the learners’ state as being out-of-school and for enrolling in a free educational program offered by government.  Slightly severe problems encountered by the learners are their personal, family and peer relations, the lack of government supplementary support and methods of teaching in the school.
All of the learners believe that the ALS education shall aid them in their competency for a college education or for employment applications in the future. Most of the respondents agree that the knowledge acquired from the ALS education is functional in their home and for survival in the society. Majority of the respondents believe that their education shall improve the quality of their life primarily if they can acquire jobs in the future that shall be in application of their skills and knowledge.   More than half of the respondents reveal that they seldom think of regretting their being part of the ALS program.  In this area of objective of alternative learning, it has, in part, complied with its aim in the development of the individual to become self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-disciplined to participate in all activities and become productive citizens in their national  development efforts not only their lives but their communities.

For a more effective and holistic implementation of the ALS program, the BALS can be more effective if it strengthens its cooperation and foster greater partnerships with the local government units, and other departments of government.  The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) can assist in the income generation and capital assistance components of the ALS.  The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) can support the stakeholders in terms of other employment opportunities.  Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) social workers can utilize case work and group work approaches to bridge the OSY problems toward social amelioration This shall be in pursuit of a full support of all components in the implementation of the ALS program.   The success of the ALS program can be measured, not only through the perception of the stakeholders but likewise, by tracking their graduates present status and condition.  This shall be fertile subjects of future studies and researches.

REFERENCES
Electronic Sources

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.baguiocity.com/index.php.news and item.7//10 and region 9 and cat 2G
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://mavisalang.blogspot.com/2008/alternative.learning.system.meeting html.2008
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://wikipilipinas.org/index.php.ALS
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Choo, S. (2008). ALS Program in the Philippines. Columbia University.

Journals
Aquino, C. (2007). ALS: Its implementation in the Private Higher Educational Institutions in the CAR Region. Baguio City: Baguio Central University.
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Bogwana, J. A. (September 2007). Effectiveness of Alternative Learning System Programs in Ifugao and Kalinga Divisions. Baguio City: Baguio Central University.
Cacabelos, A. (2001). The Constraints of the Non-formal Education for the OSY in Region 1. Baguio City: Baguio Central School.
Copsiyan, F. (2001). Problems Encountered by Non-formal Education Program Implementors of Accredited NGO's in Baguio City. Baguio City: Saint Louis University.
Cortez, R. (1993). Towards a Functional Non-formal Education Program for the OSY of Philex Mines Community. Baguio City: Saint Louis University.
Fernandez, J. (2000). Preparedness of Fourth year Students of SLU in Implementing Non-formal Education Programs. Baguio City: Saint Louis University.
Gonagon, B. (1997). Competence of Non-formal Education Implementors in the Division of Ifugao. Baguio City: Saint Louis University.
Lingbayan, B. (2005). The Implemantation of Non-formal Education in District 1 and 3. Baguio City: Baguio Central University.
Lucio, V. (1999). Non-formal Education Program of Save our Street Children Foundation Inc. Baguio City: Saint Louis University.
Paydo-en, D. B. (2007). Contribution of Alternative Learning System to community development in Mankayan District, Division of Benguet.
Puyao, R. (2001). Effectiveness of Instructional Materials Utilized in Literacy Programs in Kayapa District. Baguio City: Saint Louis University.
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2 comments:

  1. can i use this on my research??

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for this article...it really helps my study

    ReplyDelete