Changing Life’s Course through Virtual Learning

Updated: Apr 15

“Attending the ALSE (Ateneo Leadership Financial Literacy and Social Innovation/ Entrepreneurship) course, I got to know myself more and realized that it's never too late and that I could still achieve something more for myself and my family.”


Janice is 40 years old and working as a part time domestic helper in Rome for the past 11 years. She has three children, two that she left behind under the care of their father and one who is with her and attending school in Rome.


OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) are valued by the Government for their remittances, among other things, as a source of revenue. Moreover, they were seen by Ateneo University as a human force that if motivated and trained could change their outlook, their lives and those of their families, with the ability to contribute positively to the community and in nation building.


The most significant feature of this unique initiative is its sustainability. So how was this possible? The core of the Program is made up of Secretariats composed of dedicated alumni that have instilled in themselves the virtue of paying forward as volunteers.

ALSE was first started in Rome in 2008 after Associazione Pilipinas OFSPES (Overseas Filipinos’ Society for the Promotion of Economic Security) broached to former Dean of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government (ASoG), Antonio La Vina, the idea to start a course in social entrepreneurship that could benefit OFWs.


OFSPES is a Non-Governmental Organization active in migration issues and capacity development of Filipino migrants. The students in the first two pilot batches were asked to pay only Euros 50 for the whole course with the incentive that if they finish the full 12-session course, they would get back their registration fee. Many who completed the course with full attendance decided to donate the amount back to OFSPES as their way of giving back to the program for the many benefits they got from it. The course consisted of three modules: leadership, financial literacy, and social entrepreneurship. The lessons were a whole day every fortnight for 6 months. The graduates were expected to come up and submit a Business Plan that was also pursued with lessons on how to execute the plan – the practicum.

With what started as Batch 1 in 2008 in Rome, the ALSE Program evolved to Overseas Filipinos Leadership, Innovation, Financial Literacy, Social Entrepreneurship (OF-LIFE) and is currently at its 107th batch. The program has since been conducted in 16 countries in Asia (including the Philippines), the Middle East and North Africa, and Europe with plans to start new batches as well in North America by June 2022.

Students from Rome (Batch 104) together with Geneva, Paris, Milan, and Amsterdam are learning simultaneously taking advantage of the common time zone and the volunteer teacher’s availability. As a consequence of COVID-19, The mode of teaching became synchronous using zoom, canvas (learning management system) and live streaming. The current European program has about 120 students.


Janice is one of the aspiring students of ALSE 104 Rome who had wanted a change that could get her family together again and set up a business in the Philippines. She claims that ALSE for her is new life and new hope. She said, “I don’t have to give everything that my siblings ask for. I am learning to manage my finances better and would like to save and start to prepare for my retirement.”


Janice has the following message: “Sa mga kapwa ko OFW hindi pa huli ang lahat para matuto at umunlad ang kaalaman at makilala ng lubos ang sarili. Na hindi hadlang ang edad para matuto at umasenso sa buhay.” (To my fellow OFW, it is not too late to learn and increase knowledge and get to know oneself better. Age is not a hindrance to learning and a better life.”)


ALSE would be ready to train any interested Filipino group of at least 20 persons. Contacts could be set up through ALSE OF-LIFE Facebook account.


Maris Gavino, Member, ALSE 104 Rome Secretariat.