DepEd, DOLE urged: Give school grants to jobless workers’ children

Published by rudy Date posted on February 1, 2009

A senior administration lawmaker yesterday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to provide children of displaced workers access to school grants that can be used to pay their tuition, even if only in part.

“We should encourage families to keep their children in school, even if a member of the household recently lost his or her job,” Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, whose family owns one of the oldest schools in Cebu, said.

In a statement, he said DepEd and DOLE should use the special voucher system under the P3.6-billion Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program as one of several interventions or coping measures for displaced workers.

Under GASTPE, students who apply for assistance may get P7,000 vouchers they can then use to cover a portion of their tuition. The program does not have any requirement, other than the willingness of the student’s parents to pay for the rest of the tuition.

The GASTPE has two components: the service contracting scheme and the voucher system.

With a budget of P2.55 billion this year, the service contracting would subsidize the tuition of 509,739 enrollees at a cost of P5,000 per student. With a budget of P1.04 billion, the voucher system would award P7,000 each to 148,579 students.

According to a DOLE report, some 300,000 workers “may have already lost their jobs, or are about to thrown out of work, mostly by exporters reeling from the severe global economic downturn.”

Economists at Citigroup Inc., however, said they expect a much higher number of Filipino workers — up to 500,000 — to join the ranks of the unemployed this year.

Gullas said Deped and DOLE should also prioritize children of retrenched workers in the award of other types of school grants. –- Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star

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