P86 B GASTPE did not exclusively benefit poor students, but also extended benefits to non poor- COA

Published March 11, 2019, 10:07 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Ben Rosario

The P86 billion funding for the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) did not exclusively go to  poor beneficiaries but likewise benefited “non-poor families.”

In its Performance Audit Report of the educational program, the Commission on Audit noted that the Department of Education has failed to provide with enough data on the program’s effects in decongesting public schools.

The Performance Audit was conducted by COA to verify the extent of the accomplishment of GASTPE goals by DepEd and determine that extent by which beneficiaries were assisted.

Implemented from 2012-2017 GASTPE provides financial assistance to students and teachers in order to improve access to quality education and decongest public schools.

State auditors focused their audit on the educational service contracting (ESC) program, teachers salary subsidy (TSS) and the Senior High School voucher program (SHS VP).

Based on the GAA covering 2012 to 2017, a total P86.003,0390 in funds went to GASTPE.

COA noted that GASTPE provided assistance to at least 5,199,200 junior high students, 1,915,866 senior high students, and 128,853 teachers but the number remains short of the target.

“In additional DepEd has limited information on the extent the Program decongested the public schools and does not have adequate and suitable performance indicators,” the audit report stated.

As a result of the lack of data, COA found difficulty “to attribute any education-related outcome or trend to the program.”

On the implementation of the Education Service Contracts aimed at decongesting public junior high school, COA found a constant decrease in the number of beneficiaries availing of the program.

Due to the lack of proper program information on the ESC scheme, doubts have been aired on the effectivity of delivery of improved quality education.

COA noted that in the implementation of the ESC program, Dep-Ed has failed to check whether or not students benefited are actually underprivileged.

The DepEd pointed out, however, that the law does not restrict the grant of the ESC program to the poor, saying that it merely used the “term preference”.

Thus, DepED said it is not its responsibility to ensure that only underprivileged students receive the benefits.

In the implementation of the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS-VP), the Dep Ed failed to use its selection formula since there is more than enough budget for its implementation.

“While decongestion may not be the Program’s priority, it has been established that the level of congestion greatly affects the provision of quality education,” COA said