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Note: This article was first published by The Philippine Star on June 30, 2020 (12:00am) and written by Rainier Allan Ronda. The XU Communications and Promotions Office acknowledges the importance of the information declared in this article to the XU community.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) opened yesterday the online applications for its Senior High School Voucher Program or SHS VP for school year 2020-2021.

Those interested can visit the online voucher application portal, according to DepEd.

Applicants must submit a recent 2x2 colored ID photo, proof of financial means of the parent or guardian, signed parental consent form for applicants aged 18 years and below, and if applicable, a signed certificate of financial assistance for applicants who were Junior High School (JHS) beneficiaries.

Deadline of application for the SHS VP is on July 24, but supporting documentary requirements could be submitted until Oct. 30.

The SHS voucher is basically a financial assistance worth P11,250 up to 22,500, depending on the location of the school that could allow a beneficiary either to get free SHS education, or greatly reduce tuition cost.

The DepEd said that Grade 10 completers in SY 2019-2020 that were from public schools, state universities and colleges and local universities and colleges, as well Educational Service Contracting grantees from private schools, are automatically qualified for the SHS VP.

‘Timely piece of legislation’

President Duterte’s signing into law of the Congress-approved bill reintroducing the subjects on good manners and right conduct and values education in schools is a “timely piece of legislation” in this tech-savvy era, a key House leader said yesterday.

“There is a need to return to our curriculum for Grades 1 to 6 the subject GMRC and to Grades 7 to 12 the subject Values Education,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said, in reference to “The GMRC and Values Education Act (Republic Act 11476).”

“It is a timely piece of legislation for the present day,” he said, noting that “this age of the internet and modern computer devices and gadgets, young people tend to forget or ignore good conduct, manners and values.”

“The law is in consonance with the goal of improving our primary education system comprehensively,” the chairman of the House committee on constitutional reforms stressed, even as he urged the Department of Education to “recruit and train qualified teachers.”

“It is high-time we emphasize that quality education does not only entail strength in math, science, and other core subjects; rather, it includes the moral, physical, and mental well-being of our youth,” Rodriguez said.

In a related development, another senior administration legislator called on the country’s top 500 companies to at least try to donate to DepEd online learning tools that students will be needing as the country faces the so-called “new normal.”

Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, chairman of the committee on basic education and culture of the House of Representatives, also proposed an “Adopt-a-School Program” to help bridge the resource gap as DepEd shifts to blended remote or virtual and online learning.

Donors of basic education materials may deduct from their gross taxable income up to 150 percent of the value of their contribution, where these companies may get their tax benefit, which government may offer as an incentive.

Under the proposed ASP, learning and technology support such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, e-books, educational films, e-libraries, TV sets, internet connectivity and cable TV services are among the qualified forms of assistance.

Romulo said online learning tools are needed for public elementary and high school students.

“Business process outsourcing companies, for instance, can donate brand new or even secondhand desktop computers, laptops or tablets for home use by both students and teachers, while those in telecommunications can sponsor free data plans to facilitate remote learning over the internet,” Romulo said.

For her part, Rep. Bernadette Herrera urged Malacañang to include in the proposed national budget for 2021 an allocation that would allow DepEd to provide laptops to all 880,000 public school teachers in the country.

“We hope that a budget for the purchase of laptops for all teachers in public schools will be included in the 2021 National Expenditure Program to be submitted by Malacañang to Congress in July or August,” the congresswoman from Bagong Henerasyon party-list said.

According to Herrera, a laptop has never been more important for public teachers as they prepare to shift to online teaching as part of the DepEd’s distance and blended learning program in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have to make sure that our teachers are equipped with at least the most basic technology tool for online teaching, which is a laptop,” she added. Delon Porcalla