Emerging in both Europe and America, alternative education movements catalyzed significant reforms in the education system, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Alternative Learning System (ALS). In the Philippines, ALS provides opportunities for the marginalized out-of-school youth (OSY). The aim of the study is to determine the OSYs' experiences, perspectives on ALS and to determine the impact of the program. Two ALS programs for out-of-school youth in Metro Manila are the focus of this study. These are non-government initiated institutions that cater to 19 to 25 year old out-of-school youths. A total of 20 in-depth interviews and 3 sessions of direct observation were conducted with current students and graduates of the programs to acquire their overall discernment of ALS. The participants of the study is comprised of 10 boys and 10 girls. These individuals have varied backgrounds, interests, and reasons for joining the respective programs. Using Nvivo coding, common themes identified from interviews and secondary sources were triangulated to acquire multiple views and to understand the meanings behind the statements. The results show that ALS offers opportunities and platforms for the marginalized sector to pursue their education despite the difficulties they experienced in life. However, their experiences while in the program were not all positive. Despite opening up opportunities for out-of-school youth, ALS programs are also structures that reinforce social inequalities. Such can be the paradox of educational programs, alternative or mainstream. Implications for ALS programs in the Philippines are discussed.
Rosselle Trishia Carbaja, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines