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Press Release - Gatchalian: SHS voucher program fails to decongest public schools

The lack of an effective targeting mechanism led to the failure of the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS-VP) to decongest public senior high schools, Senator Win Gatchalian flagged.

He emphasized that by offering vouchers, students can choose from a wider range of schools, including private institutions. When students opt for private schools using vouchers, it can alleviate overcrowding in public schools.

"We should also prioritize poor students when implementing the voucher program. For me, it's a waste that we don't solve the problem of congestion because we are randomly giving the voucher program to students. That is why it is important that we have a mechanism for identifying congested areas and then allocating vouchers to those congested areas," Gatchalian said.

The chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education said that if the SHS-VP had included an effective targeting mechanism, there would have been no more aisle learners in public senior high schools. Aisle learners refer to those who can no longer be accommodated in classrooms because of public school congestion. Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) and estimates from the senator's office reveal that 20% or 542,372 of 2,717,976 senior high school learners are considered aisle learners. For School Year (SY) 2023-2024, there are 1,276,677 grantees for the SHS-VP.

"If those 1.2 million targeted the 542,000, we wouldn't have any aisle learners anymore which means there would be no congestion because the number of aisle learners is less than the number of beneficiaries. In other words, there are twice as many beneficiaries of the voucher program who are not in congested schools," said Gatchalian during a hearing on the implementation of Republic Act No. 8545 or the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act (E-GASTPE).

The senator also raised that the regions with the most number of private schools participating in the SHS VP do not have the most number of congested schools. While the National School Building Inventory as of June 30, 2023 shows that Region VII has the most number of congested schools, the Voucher Management System as of March 15,