Tech is good, but learner must come first

A non-profit organization launches an e-book project for the out-of-school youth in Manila

DIGITAL NATIVES. Sandiwaan aims to bring Alternative Learning System modules to out-of-school youth in the form of e-books. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – In Manila  home to many slum areas in the country  a non-profit organization wants to provide e-learning to the out-of-school youth, hoping to extend it to thousands of others all over the country. 

On Wednesday, January 29, the Sandiwaan Center for Learning launched their e-book project which hopes to digitize modules used by the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Bureau of Alternative Learning System (ALS) in teaching the out-of-school youth of Tondo, Manila. (READ: Who’s excited about Saturday school?)

Sandiwaan Executive Director Fr Ben Beltran said these e-books, which can be accessed through computers, smartphones, and tablets, will aid not only easily-distracted digital natives, but even ALS teachers who will not have to keep printing materials for their learners over and over again. (READ: Making friends in jail: A mobile teacher’s story)

But Education Secretary Armin Luistro was quick to remind the organization that even in using technology, the learner must still come first – an approach behind most of the education reforms under his watch. 

Hindi naman lahat ng teknolohiya ay makakatulong sa kaalaman…Ang tutok natin dito dapat ay yung learner pa rin: ano yung kanyang background, ano yung kanyang competencies, at paano sya mas mabilis matututo?”

(Not all technology can help in learning…Our focus here must still be the learner: What is his background, what are his competencies, and how will he learn more quickly?)

The department itself has already begun digitizing all teaching and learning materials under the new K to 12 curriculum.

But while he cautioned that technology can be a real distraction to the youth, Luistro still recognized that Sandiwaan’s project can help ALS learners who, because of their different life situations, can only allot a few hours of their day or week for studying, as well as those who can only study from home. 

E-BOOKS. Sandiwaan Executive Director Fr Ben Beltran shows the demo of the project. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

Abot Alam 

In 2013, DepEd, together with the National Youth Commission, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and other partners launched Abot Alam, a 3-year initiative that will build a comprehensive database of out-of-school youth in the Philippines. This is to organize all efforts and resources aimed at helping them finish basic education.

Luistro again asked every barangay to help list down the names of the out-of-school youth in their area, and the last school grade they finished.

‘Pag meron kaming listahan niyan, magagawan namin ng profile dun sa ating mga supervisors, tapos gagawan na natin ng programa,” he added.

(When we have the list, we can do a profile for our supervisors, and then we can already create a program.)

This is the first phase of the program, or what DepEd calls the Out-of-School Youth Barangay Targeting System (OSY-BTS). After building the database, the Community Reintegration Program (CoRPs) follows, where the listed out-of-school youth will be reintegrated back into the education system – either in a formal or non-formal setting.

Beltran said the DepEd diploma given after a learner passes ALS’ Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) can boost self-confidence. (READ: Are graduates of alternative high schools ready for college?)

The test determines if a learner already possesses competencies equivalent to that of a Grade 6 or a 4th year high school graduate.

Beltran and other members of Sandiwaan noted there are more than 6,000 out-of-school youth in just 4 areas of Tondo, where they plan to pilot the e-book project: Isla Puting Bato, Baseco, Parola, and Del Pan. –

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