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350,000 Grade 7 students to get DepEd subsidy

The Department of Education (DepEd) will help subsidize the tuition of 350,000 students enrolling in Grade 7 at private schools in school year 2014-2015.

In a DepEd order, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said 350,000 Education Service Contracts (ESC) slots are available for Grade 7 students who wish to pursue secondary education in private schools under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program.

Luistro said that the GASTPE, which consists of the ESC and the Teachers Salary Subsidy (TSS), is a “demonstration of government’s commitment to maintain the viability of private education as a key partner in the delivery of quality basic education.”

Jointly implemented by DepEd and the Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE), the ESC subsidizes the tuition fee of students who enroll in private schools who can’t be accommodated in public secondary schools.

The subsidy for ESC grantees is P6,500 per student in participating schools outside the National Capital Region (NCR) and P10,000 per student in private schools in the NCR.

The NCR will have 28,001 ESC slots, Region IV-A (Calabarzon) 50,006; Region III (Central Luzon) 47, 419, and Region VII 29,643.

Luistro said the ESC is also “aimed at democratizing and improving access to quality secondary education through the government extension of financial assistance to deserving elementary school graduates who wish to pursue their secondary education in private schools.”

The ESC, is also “geared towards reducing the class size to manageable levels in public secondary schools, especially those experiencing shortage of classrooms and teachers.”

Last year, DepEd said it increased by 24 percent the number of slots for Grade 7 students availing of tuition fee subsidy in private schools under the ESC scheme.

DepEd and FAPE determined the distribution of Grade 7 slots under the ESC based on public school shortage in the regions, schools division and municipalities. The participating schools’ compliance to performance-based standards is also a major consideration.

To “expedite the decongestion” of public secondary schools and “improve their learning environment,” the DepEd expanded the ESC to include Open High School Program as “an alternative mode of delivery providing students with greater access to secondary education.”

The grant amount for incoming grantees of the OHSP for all regions including NCR is P6,500 per grantee per grade level.

Meanwhile, teachers and students groups have been criticizing the implementation of GASTPE citing that the funds allocated for it should be “used to address the shortages public schools first.”

In an statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said the “administration should prioritize education as an important social service and allot the needed budget for this.”

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) also insisted that the GASTPE is “not working” and that “the purpose of the GASTPE is not being served because more students from private schools are transferring to public schools.”