MANILA – Cagayan de Oro City's alternative learning system (ALS) e-Skwela Center has received PHP2.2 million worth of distance learning equipment from the United States government, the US Embassy in Manila said Thursday.

Included in the donation were 50 desktop computers, webcams, headphones, wireless routers, and other materials for distance learning in ALS.

US Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan virtually turned over the equipment on December 15 to Department of Education (DepEd) ALS Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat, who was joined by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and Rep. Rolando Uy.

“The US government, through USAID, has supported DepEd in reinvigorating education programs. We are working hard so that vulnerable, out-of-school youth, who have stopped school due to the pandemic, are given the opportunity and tools to adapt, grow, and have a better tomorrow," Callahan said.

Ambat, meanwhile, thanked the USAID, citing it as one of DepEd's strongest partners.

“The Covid-19 pandemic worsened the out-of-school youth’s lack of access to education. This magnified their vulnerability, leaving them less able to pursue education and progress toward better economic opportunities for themselves and their families," the official said.

"We are happy that USAID remains one of DepEd’s strongest partners, committed to supporting us in improving the quality of basic education for Filipino youth,” she added.

USAID is also supporting four other e-Skwela centers located in Legazpi City, General Santos City, Angeles City, and Davao City through an aid package amounting to PHP12 million.

Through its Opportunity 2.0 program, USAID has been supporting DepEd ALS’ continuity and Covid-19 response plan, which helps restore access to education for vulnerable out-of-school youth.

It also helped DepEd last year in developing self-paced ALS modules and trained ALS teachers to deliver this new content using new modalities to overcome pandemic-related challenges.

As of December 2021, more than 16,000 out-of-school youth have benefitted from the said modules while more than 2,500 ALS teachers and implementers have so far been trained on flexible delivery modalities nationwide. (PNA)