17,000 Grade 11 students facing displacement

17,000 Grade 11 students facing displacement

/ 05:34 AM January 04, 2024

17,000 Grade 11 students facing displacement

Students at the Felimon Liza Senior High School in Navotas City. This photo was taken on Feb. 24, 2020. (File photo from the Joint Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict)

MANILA, Philippines — More than 17,000 Grade 11 students currently enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs) might be displaced once these institutions comply with a Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) order for them to stop offering the senior high school (SHS) program next school year.

Based on data sent to the Inquirer, the Department of Education (DepEd) recorded a total of 2.1 million Grade 11 students for this school year, of which 17,751 were enrolled in SUCs and LUCs.


“Those that will be displaced have two options next school year: Enroll in public schools or if they would prefer to do so, they may also enroll in private schools and avail [themselves] of the voucher program,” Education Undersecretary Michael Poa told reporters on Wednesday.


He added that some regions, particularly Cagayan Valley and Davao, no longer had SHS or Grade 11 students enrolled in SUCs and LUCs “so no one [would] be displaced in these [areas].”

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Beneficiaries of the voucher program would not be affected as well by the discontinuation of the SHS program because no incoming Grade 11 students were accepted in SUCs and LUCs even before the school year started.

“However, we still provided vouchers for Grade 12 learners in [these institutions] so they could finish [their studies],” Poa said.

DepEd data showed that some 2 million Grade 12 students were currently enrolled this school year, most of them in public schools (1.3 million). A total of 704,792 were in private schools while 24,855 were in SUCs and LUCs.

1-year extension eyed

At the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon public briefing on Wednesday, CHEd Chair Prospero de Vera III said that he would talk to DepEd officials about possibly continuing the subsidies for public universities with SHS students for the next school year.


“Maybe the voucher [system] can be extended for at least one year for the students who are already enrolled. But I don’t want to preempt [our meeting], we’ll see first what will be the decisions of the boards of regents of the universities,” he added.

On Dec. 18 last year, the CHEd issued a memorandum directing the governing bodies of SUCs and LUCs to stop offering the SHS program “as there [was] no longer legal basis to fund the same.”

The institutions’ involvement in basic education, through the SHS program, should have been limited to a five-year transition period, or from school years 2016 to 2017 until 2020 to 2021, following Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.

“In the past two years, we have been telling the public universities to wind down their senior high [enrollment] because there is no more legal basis for their offering of high school [education],” De Vera said.

He pointed out that under the law, SUCs should offer only degree courses, not high school classes.

But when the K-12 program was adopted in 2016, national high schools faced the burden of adding more classrooms and teaching staff due to the additional two years of SHS added to basic education.

“The problem back then was there was a lack of teachers and classrooms for senior high students because of the additional two years, while for the public universities, they have excess classrooms and teachers because there would be no freshmen coming in,” De Vera said.

Temporary solution

As a solution, the CHEd and DepEd signed an agreement for a transition period during which public universities would be allowed to accept SHS students with DepEd providing them with subsidies through a student voucher system since secondary education should be free.

Due to the pandemic, the matter was not addressed after the transition period ended in 2021 with schools transitioning to online learning.

“Now, the DepEd issued a circular that students in public universities will no longer be given vouchers because the transition period is over. That is why our order to the public universities is to [convene] their boards of regents to talk about this, and if possible, to no longer accept new senior high students or Grade 11,” De Vera said.

“[As for] the Grade 12 [students] that are enrolled with them, they should just let them finish [the academic year] because there is no more legal basis [for offering high school education] and there will be no more subsidies from the national government for these students,” he added.

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In public universities not under the CHEd, De Vera said that as autonomous institutions, their board of regents should come up with their own policy of stopping the admission of SHS students while deciding what to do with current enrollees.

All problems arising from the DepEd circular should be communicated by the concerned schools’ boards of regents to CHEd regional offices which would raise them before the commission en banc for proper action, he said.

TAGS: Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, Grade 11 students, senior high school prorgram

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