TACLOBAN CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) -– At least 2,601 senior high school (SHS) students in this city have availed the voucher program for enrolling in private schools and state universities and colleges.

The Department of Education (DepEd) expects that more SHS students will be listed in the program with the current updating of information at the department’s main office.

The number accounts more than half of the nearly 5,000 SHS learners enrolled in both public and private schools in the city this academic year.

Norberto Erandio, DepEd Tacloban division SHS coordinator, said there are 20 private schools and eight public learning institutions offering the SHS program.

The voucher program is intended for Grade 10 completers who wish to pursue SHS education in non-DepEd schools such as private high schools, colleges, and universities, and technical and vocational schools, starting this school year.

The voucher enables students to claim a “discount” or a deduction from the cost of tuition and other fees charged by a non-DepEd school where they are enrolled. The voucher subsidy is not given to students directly in the form of cash but will be disbursed by DepEd to the school.

“Through the voucher program, students and their families are able to exercise greater choice in deciding the SHS program that is most relevant to their needs and career goals,” Erandio said.

Since Tacloban is highly urbanized city, recipients are entitled to receive a full voucher amount of PHP20,000.

The SHS voucher amount is aligned to the cost of public provision or how much it would cost government to support the schooling of a public SHS student.

“This means that whether a student decides to enroll in a public or a non-DepEd SHS, the government’s investment in his or her education is the same,” Erandio added.

The voucher amount varies for a Grade 10 completer in a public JHS (100 percent voucher value) and from a private JHS (80 percent voucher value), since students in private schools are paying students and have some capacity to pay.

SHS covers the last two years of the K to 12 program and includes Grades 11 and 12. In this system, students go through a core curriculum and subjects under a track of their choice. (PNA)