DepEd’s P10-B voucher program held up

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ABOUT half of the beneficiaries of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) voucher program are at risk after P10 billion of its proposed 2021 budget was classified as unprogrammed funds, a key official said on Wednesday.

About P10 billion was slashed from the agency’s voucher program, but later returned upon the request of Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Education Undersecretary Annalyn M. Sevilla told a Senate budget hearing.

But it was put under unprogrammed funds, which means it can be enforced subject to the availability of the money.

Aside from the P10 billion, only P12 billion was allotted under programmed funds, which the budget department suggested to be used to shoulder student enrollment for the first semester.

Ms. Sevilla also asked senators to restore the P1.5-billion budget for the annual medical checkup of teachers.

More than 24 million students have enrolled for this school year, which opens on Oct. 5. Of the total, 22.3 million were public school students, 2 million were private and 382,000 were under alternative learning systems. — Charmaine A. Tadalan