Gatchalian seeks adequate funding for Senior High School financial assistance

Gatchalian seeks adequate funding for Senior High School financial assistance

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — The Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS-VP) is in peril
with its budget facing a looming decline of P8.7 billion for the next
fiscal year, Senator Win Gatchalian said.

Under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), P25.2 billion was
allocated to the SHS-VP. This includes P11.5 billion under
Unprogrammed Appropriations, P4.8 billion of which was already
released by the Department of Education (DepEd) as of September 2021.

Under the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP), however, only P16.5
billion was allotted to the SHS-VP. With this projected budget, the
number of beneficiaries is expected to decline by 33,883 compared to
2021.

The SHS-VP targets 1.38 million beneficiaries for the fiscal year 2022,
which requires a budget of P24.6 billion or P12.3 billion per
semester. This will fund the 2nd semester of the School Year (SY)
2021-2022 and 1st semester of SY 2022-2023. Based on the 2021 GAA,
each voucher is valued at P17,793.

Under the 2021 budget, P5.9 billion is available for the 1st semester
of SY 2021-2022, facing a shortfall of P6.7 billion. If this P6.7
billion-deficit is charged to the P16.5 budget for FY 2022, only P9.8
billion will be available, which will not be enough to fund even one
semester of the SHS-VP.

The SHS VP is a financial assistance program that enables
underprivileged but qualified senior high school students to study in
private schools, state and local universities, and colleges.

“We have to send a clear signal to our private schools because they
are hurting, and reducing the budget of the SHS-VP will definitely
send the wrong signal to our private schools,” Gatchalian said during
the Senate panel hearing on DepEd’s proposed budget for 2022.

Gatchalian pointed out that ensuring adequate funding for the SHS-VP
will also prevent the accumulation of payables to private schools,
which are already struggling with more job losses incurred amid the
COVID-19 pandemic due to a decline in enrollment rates.

“Kung matitiyak nating may sapat na pondo ang voucher program para sa
senior high school, matitiyak natin ang patuloy na edukasyon ng mga
mag-aaral na bahagi ng programa. Matutulungan din natin ang mga
pribadong paaralan na ating katuwang sa paghahatid ng dekalidad na
edukasyon,” Gatchalian added. (ai/mtvn)

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