Senator Win Gatchalian said he will propose amendments to address the 14 billion peso-budget shortfall to cover all 1.29 million learners under the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS VP) for 2020.
The SHS VP is a financial assistance program that enables underprivileged but qualified senior high school students to study in private schools, state and local universities and colleges. The cost of supporting 1.29 million learners is P18 billion per semester or P36 billion for the entire school year. The current allocation for the SHS VP is P22.93 billion.
Gatchalian also sought the settlement of P11.4 billion owed by the DepEd to private schools under the program, noting that these schools have expenses to pay such as salaries and utilities. This entails the total addition of P25 billion to the SHS VP budget.
“It is imperative that we look for P14 billion to finance the other semester of these 1.2 million students and at the same time, pay P11 billion for the deficit,” Gatchalian said in his interpellation during the budget deliberation for the Department of Education’s 2020 budget.
The lawmaker took note that without these vouchers, some student-beneficiaries in private schools may have no choice but to transfer to public schools which will affect the teacher-ratio in classrooms.
“In the appropriate time, I’ll make some amendments so that we will make sure that our students have vouchers for the next semester of school year 2020-2021”, Gatchalian added.
On top of the number of DepEd senior high school beneficiaries, Gatchalian also said there is a need to allocate more funding to more than 58,800 student-beneficiaries of the Voucher Program for Non-DepEd Public Senior High Schoolers. They are currently allocated P592 million, which is only enough to cover the first semester and parts of the second semester. To cover all these 58,000 learners, approximately P200 million more is needed.
“Binibigyan ng programang ito ng pagkakataon ang maraming kabataan na makapag-aral. Kaya naman nais nating siguruhin na mahahanapan natin ito ng sapat na pondo para patuloy na makapasok ang mga estudyanteng bahagi ng programa at hindi maantala ang kanilang pag-aaral,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.