THE Department of Education (DepEd) has allotted at least P12 billion for its voucher program that aims to provide financial assistance for public school students who may wish to attend senior high school in private schools in June 2016.
“The 2016 budget for senior high school voucher program is P12.18 billion,” Education Secretary Armin Luistro told The Manila Times. “Based on current estimates, around 7,000 students will avail of the voucher in June 2016,” he added.
The senior high school program will be rolled out in 2016. It allows students to choose among four tracks—Academic, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood, Sports, and Arts and Design—which are designed to help learners prepare for higher education, employment, or entrepreneurship.
Luistro said 1.2 million to 1.6 million students are expected to enter Grade 11 next school year.
Based on data from the education department, about 5,899 schools will offer Grade 11 and 12, including 267 stand-alone senior high schools. It added that at least 333 non-DepEd schools—private, as well as colleges and universities—have been issued permits for senior high in school year 2014-2015, and 1,866 others that applied for permits for senior high school are already approved.
The voucher values on the area where the student is in (National Capital Region, other highly-urbanized areas, other cities and municipalities), will range from a minimum of P8,750 to a maximum of P22,500.
The DepEd, as part of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) program, will be extending financial assistance through a voucher system to incoming senior high school students to enable them to enroll in any eligible private or non-DepEd school of their choice under a full or partial tuition subsidy.
Under the voucher system, the government enters into contractual arrangements with eligible private and non-DepEd schools to subsidize in whole or in part the tuition and other fees of qualified students; through management contracts where the government enters into contractual arrangements with private and non-DepEd schools to manage the day-to-day operations of public schools; through forms of assistance under the “Adopt-a-School Program” or Republic Act 8525; or through other forms of financial arrangements under the principles of PPP [Public-Private Partnership].
Luistro clarified that the voucher for senior high school does not include teacher subsidy.
“In the current system, I only support the private schools via ESC [Educational Service Contracting] which already incorporate teachers’ subsidy. In senior high school, that is via a voucher. A teacher subsidy is not included in the discussions yet,” the DepEd chief explained.
School administrators from private schools have been asking the government to also provide teacher salary subsidy to enable them to augment their workforce for the senior high school program.
But Luistro said a law will be needed for that.
“The ball is in your hands. I have requested your [school]associations and your federations to make an enabling law that will allow government to further support private schools. Absent of an enabling law, our hands are tied,” Luistro said.
“If you want a bigger share, we need to work together. An initiative will come from your [school]organization lobbying a Congress for an enabling law,” he added.