“The Alternative Learning System (ALS) will help me get a better-paying job with which I would be able to help my family. ALS would also widen my knowledge,” says Mark Anthony Tado, 16, in Filipino.
Mac, as he is fondly called, enrolled in the ALS of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Tondo, Manila because he wanted to finish his studies. He learned about the program from his grandmother who frequents the Barangay Hall to avail of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the government.
Mac grew up with his grandparents. His mother, Laila is now living in Bacolod and has her own family. Mac has three half-siblings.
He stopped schooling after the second level of high school due to financial constraints. Both his grandparents are no longer working.
Mac idolizes his grandmother, Lola Anlay, whom he considers his inspiration. She took care of him despite her ailment. She is the reason why he refrained from bad habits and vices. He hopes to earn to help his Lola soon.
Mac admitted that his cousins did not believe he will not be able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency examination. He even thought of giving up the ALS to take care of his grandmother.
But he really wanted to finish his studies. So he persevered and did his best. His folder which is full essays and mock tests is a testament to his dedication.
Mac wanted to become either a seaman or a basketball player who is included in the roster of a team included in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the premier professional league in the country.
But first, he said he wanted to get a college diploma from the University of the East (UE) then work hard so he can buy a house and a car of his own. But before that, he knew he has to take a more practical and realistic step– enroll in a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) course, have a job the soonest possible time, earn and save.
Mac will do whatever it take to offer the best for his grandparents, especially Lola Anlay.
(Ms. Flores, the education officer of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. [KKFI], is like a mother to the Foundation’s scholars. She shows her empathy in this blog.)
No projects are without glitches, but how I wish ours—the Open High School Program—was the exemption to the rule. I assure you my reason is not selfish.
Recently, I received a bad news that broke in my heart. The funder of our Open High School Program informed Adamson that it will not be funding students that are not enrolled in Grade 7. Hence, we have to pull out one student from Grade 8 and three more from Grade 9, a total a four.
However, in return, they have guaranteed the assistance until Senior High for the remaining enrolees in Grade 7 and that they will allot a total 22 slots for us. Currently, we have six enrolees in Grade 7 and we are still looking for 16 more potential out-of-school youths (OSYs) to fill up the remaining slots.
It was a good compromise. However, it is still heart-breaking to think that the dreams of four young persons were put in limbo.
I always see our beneficiaries as a family, and in a family no one should get left behind. I keep telling them that we will achieve our dreams together and that we will graduate together. And on their graduation day, I will be like a stage mother cheering for them as their names are being called up on the stage. No one will be left behind.
It’s probably one of the reasons why I find it difficult to break the news to them. How do I tell them that they cannot continue? And that they are up for another disappointment? It’s never easy to break a bad news.
Nonetheless, it’s not yet the end. When a door closes, another one will open. Those that will be pulled out will be offered a chance to continue their schooling through Alternative Learning System (ALS) and there’s also a possibility that they will be absorbed in our scholarship program, which means they will have the opportunity to continue in a formal school.
“I learned to be more patient and can now control boisterous children,” says Ian Leonardo Sabdao, 19, of his experience handling kids of the LikhAral classes. He was one of the volunteer-teachers.
Ian, a former Alternative Learning System (ALS) student of Magsaysay, Tondo, is one of the 23 young people who passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination conducted by the Department of Education (DepEd) on April 17, 2016.
Likharal is Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc.’s (KKFI’s) version of the Vacation Church School (VCS) wherein children were provided summer activities. The objective of this program other than teaching underprivileged kids is to raise volunteers and train them eventually for a life of service.
It is Ian’s second time to teach at LikhAral last summer but has been teaching VCS in Knox United Methodist Church (UMC) for four years. He finds LikhAral more organized because it goes through extensive training and teaching-material preparation.
“I used to get angry easily when the children become unruly. Now I talk to the children earnestly and get their trust,” says Ian.
Despite growing up a United Methodist, something was lacking in Ian’s faith-journey. In fact, he used to attend classes at Bethel Knox School, a Methodist school.
“I stopped schooling due to peer influence of my ‘barkada’ (group of friends),” Ian admits.
He manned a computer shop to while the day and earned money when he was out of school. He said he did this to help in his family’s financial affairs.
Despite being brought up a middle class household, Ian said he was always in want of money. Both his parents are working. His father, Avelino, is an electrical engineer and his mother, Lilian, is a chef. Ian is the middle child of three siblings.
“My faith in God deepened in KKFI,” he says. “I became closer to God.”
Ian is known to be friendly and easy to get along with. I always see him around KKFI always wearing a ready smile for everyone.
He says now that he had passed the A&E exam, he can continue in college honing his skills in education. Yes, Ian was definitely inspired by his LikhAral experience and now wants to become a teacher.
With his amiable personality, heart and passion, I know he will be a great teacher someday. I hope sooner than later.
I am 17 years old and I am the eldest in the brood of six. My father, Michael, 38, is a tricycle driver in Divisoria, a traditional and quintessential business center of Manila, while my mother, Jean, 37, stays at home to take care of the children. We live in Barangay 108 in Tondo, Manila.
Sometime ago, I learned that Ms. Joanna Marie Merced, a neighbor, is an Instructional Manager (IM) of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI). It was in April of 2015 and I had just finished Grade 7 at the Dr. Juan G. Nolasco High School.
So there is an alternative, I thought. Since I am a bit older than my classmate, something that caused much insecurity on my part, ALS, indeed, became very attractive to me. Another factor is the economic condition of my family. My parents, I am certain, would not mind if I could finish my high earlier so I can help them provide food for the family the soonest possible time.
ALS, I thought, could solve some of our financial burdens.
Although I had some difficulty in coping with my lessons, particularly writing essays, I never considered giving up. I did not want my effort to come to naught. I also did not want to waste this God-given opportunity to finish my studies.
I saw how my father work hard to provide our daily needs. Our financial situation drove me to continue my studies and to do my best. I know education is the key to a better future for me and my family.
So, to achieve my goal, I attended each and every class of ALS. I was attentive and tried to listen hard to the IM’s instructions. I did my homework and I made sure I answered all the questions in the modules.
When I learned I passed the Accreditation and Equivalency examinations, I did not know what to do. I wanted to shout and jump for joy. Actually, I could not remember if I did. I would not be surprised if I actually did it. The happiness I felt at that moment was indescribable. All my efforts bore gold.
Now that I am an ALS passer, my next move is to enter the university, study even harder and achieve my dream of becoming a dedicated law enforcer or police officer.
If life is an Olympic event—a race—then, I am ready! I am set! And I definitely will go for the gold!
(Translated from Filipino to English by Glenda B. Gutierrez)
“I quit school when I was 15,” relates 19-year-old Avelino G. Gonzaga Jr. in the vernacular. “I was then in my third year in high school.”
Avelino enumerates three causes of his decision: financial constraints, involvement in gangs and his addiction to basketball.
He lives in Navotas City, a coastal city north of Manila. He helps augment the family’s income by joining his fisherman-grandfather catch fish using the small boat the old man owns.
He would always cook during these fishing trips to Cavite, Parañaque and Pamarawan in Malolos, Bulacan.
When I asked him what his father’s job is, he answers, “He is a foreman-welder.” I was a bit puzzled because I know foremen are paid handsomely. Then he explained that his parents separated when he was 10. His father now has a second family and was no longer able or willing to support them.
Avelino proudly adds that his mother knows how to manage their money. She works as a caterer of dealers in a casino. Her income, however, is not regular and so she saves during peak seasons.
Avelino learned of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) from a friend who knew Ana Martin, KKFI volunteer massage therapy trainer and coordinator of the St. Peter United Methodist Church (UMC).
“Nahirapan ako noong una na makisama sa kapwa ko ALS learners,” he admits. “Pero nung nakilala ko na sila, okay na.”
He adds that he was able to cope with the lessons, although he took the lessons seriously only in the early part of 2016, especially the essay writing.
Avelino says that it was not because he didn’t want to study. He says this was due to his work. He continued to join fishing trips even when he attended ALS sessions. He also works as a stevedore in Divisoria, a business center in Manila.
He says he developed his self-confidence in KKFI, especially because he participated in activities like Youth Leadership Education and Advocacy Development (YLEAD) and Likharal. He believes his leadership skills were honed by these activities.
He says he was able to talk to the Barangay chiefs and the mayor confidently during the planning for their YLEAD project. Their project was entitled “Kilos Kabataan para sa Kalinisan.” This involved teaching children about caring for the environment.
For his efforts, he received the “Best Leader Award.”
“Lahat ng hirap ko ay natanggal,” he enthused. “Masaya kami na ginawa namin ang best namin, lalo na nang nakatanggap pa ng award.” (All my fatigue melted away. We were happy that we did our best, especially when received the award.)
Avelino hopes to be a social worker-businessman someday. Yes, he plans to augment a social worker’s income by setting up a burger or pizza franchise.
Here’s hoping that a fisherman-stevedore’s dream will come true. With perseverance and determination, I am sure this is in the offing.
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.
(Noong nakaraang ika-22 ng Hulyo, ipinagdiwang ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) ang ika-66 na taon ng pagkakatatag nito sa pamamagitan ng pagkilala sa 23 mag-aaral na tagumpay na naipasa ang Accreditation and Equivalency Examination ng Department of Education (DepEd). Dalawampu’t dalawa sa kanila ay maaari nang mag-kolehiyo at ang isa ay handa na sa mataas na paaralan. Ang isa sa kanila ay ang 58-taong-gulang na si Edwin Camerino. Nagbigay siya ng mensahe sa nasabing “commencement exercise” at ito ang kanyang pahayag.)
Ako po si Edwin Camerino, taga-Imus, Cavite at kasalukuyang naninirahan sa P. Paredes Street, Sampaloc, Maynila, kapitbahay lang po ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).
Ako po ay minsan nang naging overseas Filipino worker (OFW) sa bansang Saudi Arabia sa loob po ng walong taon bilang electrical technician. Umuwi po ako sa Pilipinas noong 1991 at nagkaroon ng maliit na negosyo ng pag-a-assemble ng stainless owner-type jeep sa loob po ng pitong taon.
Taong 2002-2007, ako po naman ay naging “barangay captain” sa aming baranggay. Noong 2010 hanggang 2012 naman ay nabigyan ako ng aming meyor ng puwesto sa munisipyo ng Imus. Hinawakan ko ang isang departamento bilang head po ng Peace and Order Council at nabigyan din po ako ng isa sa pinakamataas na “item” sa munisipyo.
Sa kasamaang palad, hindi napunta sa akin ang mas mataas na posisyon dahil kulang ako sa educational background. “Second year high school” lang po ang natapos ko kaya hanggang Executive Assistant II lang ang naibigay sa akin.
Okey naman sana, kaya lang sayang di po ba?
Marami na pong pagkakataon ang nakalagpas dahil sa hindi ako nakapagtapos ng mataas na paaralan. Naisip ko na lubhang napakahalaga sa isang tao ang edukasyon. Nasabi ko sa aking sarili na kung ako ay nakatapos sana, siguro ay mas magagandang trabaho ang aking napasukan.
Hanggang nabalitaan ko po na ang Kapatiran ay nag-o-offer ng “Alternative Learning System” na nagbibigay ng pagkakataon sa mga out-of-school na gustong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral sa mataas na paaralan at gayundin sa elementarya.
Noong una po ay ang aking kasambahay ang aking kinumbinsi na mag-enroll dahil hindi raw po siya nakatapos ng “high school” dala ng kahirapan. Ngunit ang akin pong maybahay ang nagsabi sa akin na, “Bakit hindi n’yo subukan mag-enroll.” Sabay na raw kami. Ito na raw ang pagkakataon para ako ay makatapos ng high school.
Ngayon po ay narito ako sa inyong harapan upang ipagyabang na, “Ako po ay nakapagtapos na ng high school.”
Sa mga kabataan na narito ngayon, hindi kayo nagkamali sa inyong desisyon na magpatuloy ng inyong pag-aaral. Ito ay napakahalaga sa ating buhay, base sa aking sariling karanasan—Hindi hadlang ang edad o katayuan sa buhay upang matupad natin ang ating mga pangarap.
Gusto ko pong magpasalamat, una, sa ating mahal na Panginoon sa patuloy na pag-gabay sa akin, pangalawa, sa aking pamilya, sa walang sawang pagsuporta, at higit sa lahat, sa Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. na nagbigay sa akin ng pagkakataon upang makapag-aral muli. “Thank you” din po sa inyo Sir Vince (Eliver) sa tulong po ninyo.
Kung ipapahintulot po ni Lord, gusto ko pong mag-enroll sa college sa susunod na school year. Gusto ko pong subukan ang kursong “political science.” Alam ko po na hindi pa huli ang lahat para sa akin.
Sa aking mga kapwa ALS passers, “congratulation and may the good Lord bless us all!”