THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) reported that the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program cannot adequately verify the economic status of its beneficiaries.
In a 2018 performance audit report, CoA said the Department of Education (DepEd) “does not check whether or not the students are actually underprivileged.”
The GASTPE program provides financial assistance to students and teachers to improve access to quality education and decongest public schools.
CoA also noted that DepEd has not provided detailed guidelines in the selection of Educational Service Contracting (ESC) grantees. The ESC is an arrangement between the DepEd and private institutions that takes care of tuition, among other expenses, charged to students.
“Approximately, an average of P4.76 billion (for Grade 7) and P10.22 billion (for Grades 11 and 12) were paid to the ESC and SHS VP (Senior high School Voucher Program) participating schools, respectively, in aid of these students, without assurance whether these grantees/beneficiaries are underprivileged,” the report stated, based on records from 2012 to 2017.
DepEd said the law requires a grant of assistance to come with “preferences,” but is not exclusive to students from low-income households.
DepEd committed to address the CoA findings in drafting the comprehensive ESC guidelines for issuance next school year.
CoA also recommended mechanisms for the proper monitoring and management of the program after finding that the GASTPE Composite Team, tasked to exercise such functions, remained inoperative. — Charmaine A. Tadalan