THE Department of Education (DepEd) has allotted P24 billion for the senior high school (SHS) voucher program in private schools in 2017.
The allocation is twice the current budget and will cover an estimated 1.4 million student grantees who will enroll in Grades 11 and 12 in private schools next year.
The SHS voucher program is a financial aid for Grade 10 completers who wish to continue their studies in private schools, public universities, colleges and technical vocational institutions offering SHS.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones has refuted the claim of some groups that the higher budget for the senior high school voucher program for private schools favors school owners because it will give them more profit.
“It is unfair to tag the Department of Education’s (DepEd) budget as ‘private school-friendly’ when P400 billion of the proposed P546 billion budget next year is for the delivery of basic education through our public schools,” Briones said.
The DepEd chief pointed out that the program was designed to give students and their parents options in picking the senior high school that is most relevant to their needs and career goals.
“With 4,486 private schools offering SHS, compared to 220 non-DepEd public schools, it is not surprising that there are more enrollees in private schools, thus needing higher budget for the voucher program,” Briones said.
Under the program, enrollment in a private school becomes a viable option as students receive a subsidy to offset school fees charged by these schools.
Briones said the 31 percent increase in its proposed budget next year is in recognition of the needs and expectations that her agency has to meet and deliver.
“In the next six years, I intend to enhance the complementarity of public and private institutions. This is in recognition of the private sector’s vital contribution in achieving education for all in the country,” she said.