Elderly couple in Iloilo graduate elementary school

Arsenio and Monica Florentino, the elderly couple who graduated elementary school through the Alternative Learning System, are proof that age is never a hindrance to pursuing education, says Pavia Councilor JP Peñol. (Photo: Sir JP Peñol/Facebook)
Arsenio and Monica Florentino, the elderly couple who graduated elementary school through the Alternative Learning System, are proof that age is never a hindrance to pursuing education, says Pavia Councilor JP Peñol. (Photo: Sir JP Peñol/Facebook)

An elderly couple from Alimodian, Iloilo has graduated from elementary school through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) .

Arsenio Florentino, 87, and his wife Monica, 78, were among those who graduated via the ALS on September 27. The graduates mainly consisted of out-of-school youths and those who could not continue their studies.

The couple were the oldest among their batch, which Pavia Councilor JP Peñol hailed as an inspiration.

"Mabuhay kayo, Tatay Arsenio at Nanay Monica! Kayo ang patunay na hindi hadlang ang edad upang makapagtapos sa pag-aaral basta magpursigi at may dedikasyon," he said.

(Long live Tatay Arsenio and Nanay Monica! You are proof that advanced age is never a hindrance in pursuing education as long as you persevere and remain dedicated.)

"Access to free education can level the playing field especially for the disadvantaged. Giving them the chance to go to school will open more and better opportunities for them in the future and provide the chance for them to escape the cycle of poverty," he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Win Gatchalian is proposing a line item for the ALS and Special Education (SPED) budgets

Gatchalian, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, authored and sponsored the Republic Act 11510 or the Alternative Learning System Act, which would expand the ALS program to provide more opportunities for out-of-school children and adult learners.

Speaking during the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Education (DepEd), Gatchalian said, "Hopefully, we can allocate an additional budget for SPED, I think that is an item that we can improve on. We can also improve on the allocation for ALS. Traditionally, we are encouraging the department to create a separate line item for that so that ALS will have its own line item to spend."

DepEd data as of March 14, 2022 showed that for school year 2021-2022, there were 472,869 enrolled in the ALS program, 38 per cent less than pre-pandemic levels.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.