The Philippines is grappling with higher dropout rates among individuals enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), a 2021 study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

ALS is a free education program implemented by the Department of Education that caters to Filipino out-of-school youth and adults.

According to UNICEF, 65 percent (454,550 out of 698,356 learners) completed the program in School Year (SY) 2016-2017, while only 49 percent (328,195 of the 668,947 learners) finished the program in SY 2021-2022.

Top reasons preventing learners from completing the program are financial contraints (38 percent) and lack of work flexibility (29 percent).

With this, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, is seeking interventions that will prevent ALS enrollees from dropping out.

“We need to strengthen guidance and counseling for ALS learners to help and encourage them to stay in the program. We also need to provide career progression for ALS learners so they can know where they will go, what type of skills can we impart, and what type of jobs they can go into after taking ALS,” said Gatchalian.

The principal author of the Alternative Learning System Act also highlighted the importance of implementing the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Assessment to measure the performance of learners. Under the ALS law, the A&E seeks to measure and certify the competencies of ALS program completers.

While the average completion rate from SY 2016-2017 to SY 2018-2019 was 63 percent, Gatchalian noted that only 33 percent of those who completed passed the A&E.IMT