Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry on the implementation of the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act or the E-GASTPE law (Republic Act No. 8545).
In filing Proposed Senate Resolution No. 925, Gatchalian pointed out the need to ensure the proper implementation of GASTPE programs with the end goal of improving learner outcomes and securing access to quality education for underprivileged learners. Under the 2024 national budget, P40.48 billion is allocated for GASTPE.
Republic Act No. 8545 amended the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act (Republic Act No. 6728), which provides assistance to private school students at the high school, tertiary, and technical-vocational levels. Republic Act No. 6728 expanded the Educational Service Contracting (ESC) scheme. Under the program, the government shoulders the tuition and other fees of excess students in public schools who enter private schools contracted by the Department of Education (DepEd).
The introduction of the K to 12 curriculum expanded E-GASTPE coverage and paved the way for the development of the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS-VP).
Challenges, however, hound the implementation of these GASTPE programs. Based on the Commission on Audit’s 2019 Performance Audit Report on GASTPE, there were reports of ESC grantees whose existence cannot be satisfactorily explained and supported by school officials. Some ESC grantees billed under a specific school were found to be attending classes in a different school, while some grantees have not been attending classes or double-listed. The report added that some ESC slots have not been based on the pattern of public school congestion.
The COA also flagged that there were low participation and retention rates among SHS VP beneficiaries from public high schools. Participating schools in the SHS VP are also not required to undergo recertification to ensure quality education and minimum compliance.
“Katuwang natin ang mga pribadong paaralan sa paghahatid ng dekalidad na edukasyon, ngunit tungkulin din nating tiyakin na nagagastos sa tamang paraan ang tulong pinansyal na hinahatid natin sa kanila. Napapanahong suriin natin ang E-GASTPE law upang masuri natin kung paano magiging mas epektibo ang mga programa natin para sa mga pribadong paaralan,” said Gatchalian.