Disparities, Opportunities and Alternative Learning in the Philippines: A Descriptive Study of Two Alternative Learning Systems for Out-of-School Youth

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Social Development


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Enrique Niño P. Leviste, PhD


Alternative Learning System (ALS) has been present in the Philippines along with other types of non-formal education since pre-colonial times. It has been established specifically to provide opportunities for the marginalized out-of-school youth (OSY). This study aims to address the role of ALS in fostering agency among its beneficiaries. It covers both the positive and negative impacts of selected programs in the lives of the youth including their views and understandings of alternative education. Further, the study asks if ALS provides further opportunities for its beneficiaries?, or if the program only reinforces existing social inequalities, or both. To realize this, Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach was used to analyze the role of ALS in providing opportunities to the marginalized sector while Pierre Bourdieu’s Social and Cultural Reproduction identifies the disparities present in ALS. The study focuses on two cases of ALS for OSYs, Don Bosco PUGAD and iCare YESNova. In-depth interviews and direct observation with current students, graduates of the institutions, directors and administrators were conducted to acquire the necessary information for the study. 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 exercise their agency effectively. However, the experiences of the youth 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.

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