The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday, June 29, opened applications for its Senior High School Voucher Program for school year 2020-2021.
The program aims to provide financial assistance in the form of vouchers for incoming senior high school (SHS) students in participating private or non-DepEd public senior high schools.
DepEd will not give the subsidy in cash, but will directly pay the non-DepEd senior high school where the student will enroll.
The department has allocated P23.93 billion for private schools and P642.4 million for non-DepEd public schools under the SHS Voucher Program for the coming school year.
The program "aims to increase access to SHS, thereby providing greater choice to learners and their families in deciding the SHS program that caters to their needs and career goals," reads DepEd Department Order No. 16.
The DepEd said that the following Grade 10 completers of school year 2019-2020 are automatically qualified and no longer need to apply for a voucher:
Application period for the voucher program will run until July 24. The department will post the results on August 14.
The Philippines is two months away from opening school year 2020-2021 on a distance learning basis. DepEd's decision to open the school year in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic has been met with criticism. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')
Only 40% of public school teachers are ready for distance learning, the department said in a June 25 Senate inquiry.
Some students and their families have pointed out that the coronavirus lockdown has affected household finances. Many Filipinos have difficulty accessing the internet. President Rodrigo Duterte himself doubts the country's capability to implement distance learning. (READ: Duterte on DepEd's distance learning: 'I don't know if we're ready')
As of Monday, 15.3 million public and private school students have enrolled for the next school year. This is just around half of 27.7 million enrollees in 2019. The deadline for enrollment is set on Tuesday, June 30, unless DepEd decides to extend it.