DepEd reopens senior high's voucher program
MANILA, Philippines – Parents and students could breathe a sigh of relief after the Department of Education (DepEd) brought back the voucher program for incoming senior high school (SHS) students.
The voucher program is the government's subsidy for students who will pursue SHS in private high schools, local universities and colleges (LUCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), as well as technical and vocational schools.
The online application for the subsidy began on April 22 and will close on May 6, 2016.
Theresa Anne Manalastas-Menardo, DepEd Director IV of Finance Service, said the program hoped to “expand the choice of students and their families that is most relevant to their needs.”
The voluntary program is open to the following students:
- Pre-qualified voucher recipients (automatically eligible): They no longer need to apply for the voucher subsidy as long they are Grade 10 completers of Public Junior High Schools and State University/College or Local University/College Junior High Schools
- Grade 10 Education Service Contracting (ESC)-grantees who completed their Junior High School in ESC-participating private schools
- Non-ESC Grade 10 completers from Private Junior High Schools: They may apply through the Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC) National Secretariat
ESC grantees are students already pursuing their secondary education in private schools through the financial assistance of the government. The ESC is under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education or GASTPE.
How do you apply?
To apply for the voucher program, the DepEd reminded parents and students to follow the procedure and guidelines on the website.
Applicants are required to digitize the following required documents for submission:
- Two 2x2 ID photos
- PSA certified birth certificate
- Photocopy of latest Grade 10 report card
- Certificate of employment for the parents along with the latest income tax return
- Certificate of tax exemption or municipal certification of unemployment
- Certification of financial assistance (if applicable)
However, there are also private school students who may not be recipients of government subsidies, like the ESC, but are scholars. In these cases, the DepEd reminded applicants that financial assistance received in junior high school must also be declared.
Once the documents are digitized, applicants must submit the filled out form and supporting documents to the Online Voucher Application Portal (OVAP) from April 22 to May 6, 2016.
Results will be released on May 20, and qualified applicants must download and print their Qualified Voucher Recipient (QVR) certificates.
How do schools know if a student received a voucher?
The DepEd holds students' names and information in their Learner Information System database. Each student has his own Learner DepEd numbers, which is linked to Voucher Management System (VMS).
Through VMS, the school will immediately identify the students.
Schools have a scheduled “period of payment” for the vouchers. Some schools may reimburse upon the arrival of the payment for the voucher.
Failure of reimbursement will result in a penalty. Students or parents may write a letter to the DepEd, and the department will investigate the matter.
“Kaya namin muling binubuksan ang aplikasyon para sa senior high school voucher ay para doon sa 70,000 to 75,000 na nalalabing private school Grade 10 completers na hindi pa nag a-apply at nakakakuha ng voucher," said assistant secretary Elvin Uy.
(The reason we are again opening the application for the senior high school voucher is for the 70,000 to 75,000 remaining private school Grade 10 completers who have not applied and received a voucher.)
The DepEd guaranteed there would be enough money for the voucher program's reopening, having allocated P12.18 billion for 2016 for it. (READ: The real cost of education in the Philippines)
While the department said they respect the applications without regard for the parents' income, they highly encouraged parents who could afford to send their children to school to no longer apply to give lesser privileged students a chance. (READ: 2015: Protest against K to 12 at its loudest, reaches the Supreme Court)
The program was first opened in 2015 to help support parents through the K to 12 system. – Rappler.com
Kath Abenales is a Rappler intern studying AB Broadcasting at the Ateneo de Naga University.