Mendoza: Additional funds to address the gaps

The Scribe’s Corner

JUST as I was about to leave the venue of our recent module of our SLP Batch 6 Training in Tagaytay, I passed by the hotel’s corner where newspapers are placed and saw this headline with what Departemnt of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Annalyn “Anne” Sevilla termed as good news to DepEd particularly to our counterpart in the private schools and the so called last mile schools.

The article written by Merlina Hernando-Malipot in Manila Bulletin mentioned that DepEd welcomed the additional allocation in its 2020 budget as announced by the Senate, noting that this funding will help ensure the continuity of its programs and projects.

Sevilla said that the department welcomes the additional budget approved by the Senate.

She said that DepEd is very happy, although an official document to that effect have yet to be received by the Department will have an additional P6.5 billion with the P4.5 billion for the restoration of the budget for the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHSVP) and P1.5 billion for the “Last Mile Schools” Program.

The article added that DepEd was informed by the Senate that the agency is scheduled to attend a plenary hearing on November 19 that prompted Usec Anne to prepare for that but even before the plenary hearing DepEd got already the good news from Senator Sonny Angara who is leading the committee on finance.

According to Usec Sevilla, DepEd is elated to hear that there will be additional budget in the 2020 national budget and appreciated the recognition of the Senate in the importance of education – especially they focused on restoring the budget for the SHS Voucher Program and for the “Last Mile Schools” Program.

For those who have just heard about this subsidy, the SHSVP is a financial assistance program wherein subsidies in the form of vouchers are provided to qualified SHS learners. The Qualified Voucher Applicants (QVA) will receive a subsidy on their tuition and other school fees, the amount of which will depend on the category of the QVA and the location of the school where the students will enroll in.

On the other hand, Last Mile Schools Program aims to address the gaps in resources and facilities of schools that are located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged and conflict-affected areas (GIDCA). Last mile schools are those with less than four classrooms, usually makeshift and nonstandard ones; no electricity; no funds for repairs or new construction projects in the last four years; and a travel distance of more than one hour away from the center, accessible only through difficult terrain. Likewise, these are schools with multi-grade classes, with less than five teachers, and a population of less than 100 learners, more than 75% of whom are indigenous peoples (IP).

According to Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, Last Mile Schools Program is a two-year program. DepEd will be concentrating on 2020 and 2021 and the two-year program will focus first on facilities, then on infrastructure. School buildings will be built in the first year and after one year, contents like furniture, textbooks, computers, electricity, and so on will follow.

This Corner hopes that with this development, all our efforts to address the gaps will immediately reach to where they are intended so that the presence of effective governance will be felt even in the hinterlands.


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