Release of student subsidies urged

SENATOR Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to fast-track the release of the last tranche of student subsidies for school year 2018-2019 under their respective programs -- the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS VP) and the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES). 

Gatchalian said this will help families who are bearing the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Gatchalian added that aside from bringing financial relief to affected families, the disbursement of these funds would help in the upkeep of private schools, including the advanced salaries and 13th month pay of teachers and other school personnel.

“Kung may tamang panahon para putulin ng DepEd at CHED ang red tape, ito na ang pagkakataong gawin nila ito. Ngayong nasa gitna tayo ng isang matinding krisis dahil sa COVID-19, malaking ginhawa ang maitutulong ng voucher program at TES sa ating mga mag-aaral, mga magulang, mga guro, at mga kawani ng paaralan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education Arts and Culture.

The SHS VP is a financial assistance program for disadvantaged but qualified learners to study in private schools, state and local universities and colleges, (SUCs and LUCs), and technical and vocational institutions. For SY 2018-2019, vouchers amount between P14,000-P22,500, depending on the qualified recipient’s location.

The SHS VP has incurred a total deficit of P14.1 billion for fiscal year 2019, which covers fund requirements until the end of SY 2018-2019. This deficit will be charged to DepEd’s 2020 budget, which allocates P23.93 billion for the said program. The SHS VP currently supports more than 1.2 million learners.

The TES, one of the components of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act 10931) or the free tuition law, provides a maximum of P40,000 per student for education-related costs, including books, transportation, board and lodging, and other allowances. For SY 2018-2019, TES has a P16 billion allocation for 300,000 students and more than P4.7 billion are paid to SUCs and LUCs as of December 31, 2018.

Gatchalian is aco-author and co-sponsor of the free tuition law and has called for its improved implementation.