by Rex Dayao
The Alternative Learning System (ALS) program of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. was first conceived by Ms Nancy C. Nicolas, KKFI’s executive director, during one of her visits to a community of the Manila North Cemetery (MNC).
Ms. Nicolas went to the MNC, where 6,000 families live among the dead, as part of her immersion to families of children staying at the Gilead Center, KKFI’s extension in Pulilan town in the province of Bulacan. Of the 30 children the Gilead Center was assisting, three came from MNC.
However, what Ms Nicolas saw in MNC were hundreds of children from 0 to 17 years old in need of assistance. Most of them were out of school. They had no clear direction in life. They just roamed around the vast area of the country’s biggest cemetery ground doing nothing, except waste their lives away. She felt a yearning for KKFI to help more children who need education and protection from all kinds of abuses and exploitation.
She then developed a program called, “Development and Protective Services for out-of-school and at-risk children.” In no time, she came up with a project proposal that was submitted to Hope Ry for funding, a funding agency based in Finland. Hope Ry, through Mr. Juha Kaupinnen, eventually granted the project’s fund.
After a series of consultations with the out-of-school youths (OSYs), MNC residents and local officials and the Sta. Mesa Heights United Methodist Church, ALS was launched in June 2011 at the Sta. Mesa Heights UMC.
Three months later, the ALS classes started with 50 enrolees. Volunteer teachers were trained and the accreditation of KKFI as ALS service provider from the Department of Education (DepEd) was secured. Life skills training and parents development were integrated in the module to equip the children and parents better.
With the project’s success in ensuring continuing education and protection of stakeholders, the project was also implemented in Tondo, Manila with Ms Nora Cunningham, a Global Mission Fellow from New York City, U.S.A. as lead facilitator. Mr. Vince Eliver, KKFI’s resident social worker and Manila coordinator, also opened an ALS Center in Paredes to cater to OSYs living in Sampaloc District in Manila, particularly the C.M. Recto avenue, R. Papa strait and Quiapo areas.
A lot of dreams have been realized since ALS started in 2011. Consider these figures:
Academic Year Released Date # of Test Takers Passers
2015 June 2016 42 23
2014 June 2015 36 12
2013 April 2014 21 9
2011-2012 May 2013 23 6
Alternative Learning System is a program strategy under the Development and Protective Services Project for at-risk children. Volunteers from US Peace Corps and General Board of Global Ministry (GBGM) are usually assigned to facilitate the project. For four years, the project has evolved from offering alternative education into a leadership development program.
In 2015, ALS learners was able to attend the International Youth Day, a gathering of delegates around the country that promotes youth action to address challenges. A few months later, the program staff members introduced the Youth Lead Educate and Advocate for Development (YLEAD), a three-day leadership training.
More than 70 youths were able to harness their knowledge and leadership skills to develop projects and manage them. Their projects that address climate change, environmental degradation, economic empowerment and anti-substance abuse were able to benefit at least six communities.
The YLEAD projects paved the way for the US Embassy in Manila to invite KKFI ALS learners to attend the Young South East Asian Leaders Anniversary, a gathering of representatives from countries where there are active youth organizations. KKFI was able to share, among others, its social enterprise programs and services.
The Youth for Safety, a fruit of ALS, is the banner program of KKFI in partnership with the Philippine Children’s Ministry Network (PCMN). With the help of youth advocates, more than 500 children and youth were able to learn the skills in protective behavior during the LikhAral 2016 event.
Two ALS learners—Lyka Puzon and Ericka Teliquido—were chosen to write their own book entitled, “Bata Bida Ka:Mge Kwentong Bata Mula sa mga Bata,” published by the Council for the Welfare of Children. Likewise, two young leaders, Sarah Mae Cleto and Annie represented KKFI in the Philippine National Children’s Conference.
This year, KKFI was able to achieve 54% passing rate, the highest in four years (DepEd has National Passing Rate of less than 20%).
We rejoice that the efforts of KKFI in making dreams come true for children and youth of the country are bearing fruits. In few months, the 23 members of the latest batch of ALS passes, will be going to schools and universities to pursue their dreams of having a better, more fruitful lives.
Life, indeed, is unpredictable. However, there is one thing certain as far as the 23 ALS passers of KKFI are concerned—their lives will change forever and that change starts now.