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DepEd to restore subsidies to private schools

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The Department of Education said it plans to restore the government assistance and subsidy (GAS) program for private schools.

In a statement on Wednesday, DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Service and Education Programs Delivery Unit Annalyn Sevilla, said the DepEd is seeking the support of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) "to restore the reduced 2020 fund level and ensure the continuity of the program since complementarity with private educational institutions is mandated by law".

“We’re seeking the support of DBM, Congress, and Senate na hindi pwedeng mahinto ang voucher program at this time kasi marami pa tayong kinukumpleto na facilities sa public schools at mayroon din tayong batas na kailangang sundin. Pero kung babawasan po tayo at mayroon pa tayong payables na parating, kailangan nating kontrolin ‘yung para sa mga bagong mag-a-avail ng (that we can't stop the voucher program and this time we're completing many public school facilities and there's a law we must observe. But if our budget will be cut and we have incoming payables, we need to control those for new [students] who will avail of the) program," Sevilla said. 

Hence, the DepEd will allocate the voucher program budget "on a controlled level or to available slots only".

The DepEd proposed PHP52 billion funding for GAS next year but the DBM's 2020 National Expenditure Program allocated only a budget of PHP31.18 billion -- a 2.93 percent decrease from the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of PHP32.12 billion for the program.

Sevilla said the DepEd would have to continue funding for the incoming Grade 12 voucher recipients and Education Service Contracting grantees whether the budget is restored or not. 

"But we need to calibrate the number of new voucher beneficiaries depending on funding level we will get for 2020 GAA. We are still asking for additional PHP4 billion for the voucher program for 2020 to continue acceptance of new voucher students for Grades 11,” she added.

Formerly called Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education, GAS is DepEd's program, which recognizes the complementarity between public and private educational institutions. 

It aims to make private education a viable option for learners, in fulfillment of DepEd’s mandate to promote and make basic education accessible to all.

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