"It is unfair to tag the Department's budget as 'private school-friendly' when P400 billion of the proposed P546 billion budget next year is for the delivery of basic education through our public schools," Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones maintained.
Amid recent criticisms that the higher budget for Senior High School (SHS) Voucher Program for private schools - compared to the voucher allotment for non-DepEd public schools - favors school owners, Briones promptly pointed out, "You must remember that this program was designed to give students and their families options in deciding the SHS that is most relevant to their needs and career goals. With 4,486 private schools offering SHS, compared to 220 non-DepEd public schools, it is not surprising that there are more enrollees in private schools, thus needing higher budget for the voucher program."
DepEd is allocating P24 billion in 2017 to the SHS Voucher Program in private schools. The proposed allocation is twice the current budget and will cover an estimated 1.4 million student grantees who will enroll in Grades 11 and 12 in private schools next year. On the other hand, non-DepEd public schools offering SHS will receive P1.3 billion to cover 138,462 grantees who will enroll in state and local universities and colleges.
The SHS Voucher Program is a financial aid for Grade 10 completers who wish to continue their Grades 11 and 12 education in private schools, public universities, colleges and technical vocational institutions offering SHS. Under the program, enrollment in a private school becomes a viable option as students receive a subsidy to offset school fees charged by these schools.
The 31-percent increase in its proposed budget next year is in recognition of the needs and expectations that the Department has to meet and deliver. The SHS voucher program is one of the venues by which the DepEd collaborates with the private sector in the effective and inclusive delivery of education.
"In the next six years, I intend to enhance the complementarity of public and private institutions. This is in recognition of the private sector's vital contribution in achieving education for all in the country," Briones said.
Source: Philippine Information Agency