By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) has issued an appeal to private schools for an extension on payment of tuition and other school fees by students.
The DepEd enjoined all private schools to extend leniency in the collection of tuition and other school fees “as much as they can without compromising the school’s ability to ensure payment of salaries of their teachers and school personnel” during this period of enhanced community quarantine.
DepEd explained that due to the travel restrictions and projected loss of income resulting from the ongoing suspension of business, “students and parents may find difficulty in fulfilling their financial obligations to private schools.”
“Private schools may provide assistance such as not collecting fees during this period, extending deadlines for payment, suspending late payment penalties, and allowing payment on a staggered basis or allowing changes in payment methods,” DepEd said. “These, as well as other forms of assistance, will help significantly in alleviating the concerns of students and their families and allow them to focus on their health and safety during these difficult times,” the agency added.
Meanwhile, DepEd also assured schools participating in the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) that it “continues to process” billing statements for beneficiaries of the Education Service Contracting Program (ESC), Teachers’ Salary Subsidy Program (TSS), and Senior High School Voucher Program (SHSVP) during this period of enhanced community quarantine.
GASTPE is provided for by Republic Act (RA) 6728 called the GASTPE Act, which was amended by RA 8545 known as the Expanded GASTPE (E-GASTPE) Act. The E-GASTPE was further expanded by RA 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 to cover SHS.
ESC is a GASTPE program wherein financial assistance – in the form of tuition subsidies – is given to qualified elementary school graduates who wish to pursue Junior High School (JHS) or Grades 7 to 10 in accredited private schools. ESC grants range from P8,500 to P13,000 as of School Year 2018-2019.
Meanwhile, the TSS is also a GASTPE program wherein an annual salary subsidy is given to licensed teachers in ESC-participating Junior High School (JHS). An amount of Php1,500 per month of service to the JHS or a full subsidy of Php18,000 if teacher is employed until the end of the school year.
The SHS VP, on the other hand, is a financial assistance in the form of tuition subsidies given to qualified public and private Grade 10 completers to enable them to enroll for SHS or Grades 11 and 12 in private and non-DepEd public schools. Voucher amounts vary – depending on the location of the learner. It ranges from P8,700 to P22,500.
“DepEd understands the value of these payments to the schools’ operations and is expediting processing of all billing statements that have been submitted to the DepEd Central Office and its regional offices,” the department explained.
Meanwhile, DepEd noted that payments will be made “as soon as possible” – subject to the availability of funds. DepEd added that it is “closely coordinating” with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on securing the necessary funds and ensuring their availability to meet DepEd’s financial requirements.