The House Committee on Basic Education on Thursday, May 6, approved the bill seeking to further provide government assistance for students, teachers and schools in the private education sector.
Members of the committee, chaired by Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo, approved the unnumbered bill that consolidates three House proposals to further amend the Republic Act No. 6728, or the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) Act.
Laguna 2nd District Rep. Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, who led the technical working group that finalized the bill, said the bill seeks to include beneficiaries in the kindergarten, elementary and junior and senior high school levels.
Under the current GASTPE, as first amended in 1998 by RA 8545, only high school students and teachers are covered by the government aid, she noted.
While the RA No. 10533 already expanded the coverage to “all qualified students” enrolled under the K to 12 Program, not all beneficiaries are given aid due to lack of funds, Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Tonisito Umali admitted to the House panel.
He said the House bill will give the DepEd the “specific mandate” to rollout such assistance for kindergarten to grade school students in private schools.
Under the proposal, students belonging to low to middle-income families shall qualify for the subsidies.
Besides the assistance on tuition fees provided in the law, elementary level students shall also get assistance for purchase of textbooks for students; while teachers shall get in-service training and salary subsidies.
Private schools in the basic education shall also get aid for their improvement.
Hernandez admitted that they did not tackle specific budgetary requirements for the expansion of the GASTPE beneficiaries. She said the funds to be needed would be taken from the annual national budget.
ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro expressed her concern that the bill will not be implemented properly if not funded by the government, such as other programs.
Umali said they will submit to the House committee their projections on how much shall be allocated for the implementation of the expanded GASTPE.