Schools found to have “ghosts” or nonexistent students as recipients of the senior high school (SHS) voucher program face sanctions, a high-ranking official of the Department of Education (DepEd) warned on Saturday.
“If found, through the PEAC [Private Education Assistance Committee], that some schools are doing this, we will cancel their permit. In fact, we will penalize them. We can suspend or terminate them or at the same time file a case,” Mateo told The Manila Times in an interview.
Mateo gave assurances that the program is being closely monitored by the DepEd and the PEAC.
“That is why it [voucher program]was attached to the learners’ information system. Every student has a learners’ information or learners’ reference number,” he said.
“We have a lot of systems in place just to avoid this from happening. We [at DepEd], including schools that offer the Kindergarten to Grade 10 or Kindergarten to Grade 12, should work hand in hand. We should only implement what is according to the law,” the DepEd official added.
The senior high school 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 senior high school.
Under the program, students are provided with a subsidy that enables them to get a discount on tuition and other school fees.
For this year, the DepEd has allotted P24 billion for the senior high school voucher program, also known as e-Gatspe (extended Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education).
The allocation will cover an estimated 1.4 million student grantees who will enroll in Grades 11 and 12 in private schools in the coming school year.
“The budget is much bigger before because aside from the Grade 11, we now have Grade 12,” Mateo said.
The voucher values range from a minimum of P8,750 to a maximum of P22,500.
The education department was given a budget of P543.2 billion this year, the biggest allocation among the government departments.
“The total budget from 2016 to 2017 is about 31 percent higher,” Mateo said.
The big chunk of the 2017 budget will be used for the repair, construction and acquisition of basic educational facilities (P118.8 billion), including 47,492 classroom and 66,492 sets of school seats for K-to-12, P14.4 billion for the procurement of 55 million textbooks and instructional materials, as well as science and mathematics equipment for 5,449 schools.