Voucher program for senior high students in peril due to DepEd budget cuts
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday admitted that it is unsure whether it could finance the payout under its senior high school voucher program for the first semester of the school year 2021 to 2022 due to budget cuts.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian inquired about DepEd’s capability to finance its voucher program, which provides an average of P18,000 to 1.3 million students, during the Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed 2021 budget.
The voucher program was allocated P13 billion under the National Expenditure Program after budget cuts imposed by the Department of Budget and Management to make way for the free tertiary education, Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said.
“Ang simple computation ko, with P13 billion, we can only finance half of the 1.3 million senior high school students,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture.
“So my simple question is, with P13 billion, we know it is not enough. What is going to happen with that amount of money? Are we going to cut in half the senior high school voucher program?” he asked.
Head of DepEd’s voucher program Undersecretary Jess Mateo said the P13 billion is only enough to fund the voucher program beneficiaries’ second semester of the current school year.
“‘Yung P13 billion, P11 billion of that will be enough to pay the second semester of this school year 2020 to 2021. So which means only P2 billion is left for the first semester [of next year],” Mateo said.
“In other words, ‘yung school year 2021 to 2022 first semester, hindi pa siya sigurado?” Gatchalian asked, to which Mateo answered in the affirmative.
DepEd’s voucher program aims to ease the cost of schooling for qualified senior high school students.
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