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Senior High School Voucher Program’s fate uncertain amid limited budget

The Department of Education (DepEd) cannot tell if the financial support for students extending their high school studies for two years under the K to 12 program will continue amid reduced budgets.

In a public briefing on Tuesday, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones admitted that the department cannot assure the continuation of the Senior High School Voucher Program.

“…Pinag-uusapan namin kasi ang budget ng DepEd ay nabawasan ng mga P8 billion para sa contribution sa Bayanihan fund. Tinitignan kung ang funds na available maka-accommodate ng voucher program,” she said.

“Ngayon hindi pa natin masasabi dahil hindi pa kumpleto ‘yung ating enrollment figure sa private sector,” she added.

She said that enrollment in private schools is currently low because some of them set the enrollment period for July and August, which means that the DepEd has not yet determined the number of students they have to support. 

“Hindi pa natin masasabi kung magkano talaga ang kailangan,” Briones said.

She acknowledged that the voucher program is a right of parents who send their children to private schools, as well as of the private schools.

“I believe kung ano ang sinasabi ng batas, kung ano ang provision na kailangan, bigyan  ng compensation at bigyan ng tulong ang private schools…Kailangan ipatupad ‘yan,” she said.

“Ang challenge ay siguraduhin na funds will be available,” she pointed out.

Under the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 or Republic Act No. 10533 (RA 10533), the years of schooling in basic education has been expanded from 10 years to 12 years.

Due to the additional two years, the government, through this law, will provide financial assistance to qualified grade 10 completers entering senior high school.

Starting School Year 2016-2017, an additional two years representing Grades 11 and 12 were introduced in the basic education system through senior high school.

DepEd, through Order No. 11 series of 2015 (DO 11 s.2015) introduced the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS VP) as a mechanism to provide financial assistance to senior high school students affected by the new basic education curriculum. — BM, GMA News