DepEd Promoted Greater Choice for Filipino Students Through the GASTPE Program but it Needs to Strengthen its Administrative Controls to Ensure Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Program Implementation
What COA Found
DepEd focused more on student coverage and provided less attention to the Program’s effects and assessment of level of success of the Program. Based on 2012-2017 DepEd data, GASTPE provided assistance to 5,199,200 Junior High Students, 1,915,886 Senior High Students and 128,853 Teachers. This means that DepEd had hit more than 80 per cent of its student coverage target for six years. According to DepEd, this is in pursuance of the State’s obligation to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education, whether education is availed in public or private basic education institutions. Further, the DepEd also provided greater choice to the students by partnering with schools, which offers diverse academic tracks. However, we observed that DepEd had limited data on the Program’s effects on decongestion of public schools and does not have adequate and suitable performance indicators. While decongestion may not be the Program’s priority, it has been established that the level of congestion greatly affects the provision of quality education. Hence, it would be prudent to provide greater attention to Program’s effect on decongestion. DepEd admitted that it has limited performance indicators and committed to fine-tune the outcomes, outputs and targets of the Program.
In promoting greater choice, DepEd grants subsidies even to students coming from non-poor families. For Educational Service Contracting (ESC) scheme/ program, DepEd does not check whether or not the students are actually underprivileged. Management argued that the law only used the term “preference”; hence, they are not obliged to ensure that only underprivileged students receive the benefits. For Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS VP), DepEd did not use its selection formula since the budget is more than enough. For the past six school years, DepEd paid approximately ₱4.76 billion (for Grade 7 alone) and ₱10.22 billion (for Grades 11 and 12) to ESC and SHS VP-participating schools, respectively. This means that about ₱14.98 billion were given to non-poor beneficiaries for SYs 2012-2017. Each student received the amount ranging from ₱5,000 to ₱22,500.
DepEd lacks the necessary mechanisms to ensure proper administration of the GASTPE Program. The interim Project Management Office or GASTPE Composite Team, which is supposed to be in-charge of monitoring and oversight, remains inoperative. As a result, DepEd heavily relies on the PEAC in implementing the GASTPE Program. Currently, DepEd has delegated important functions to PEAC.
DepEd argues lack of funds and human resources but it has paid PEAC the amount of ₱813.00 million for its services for SY 2012-2013 up to SY 2017-2018. Furthermore, the audit team discovered during its regional visits that even the DepEd Regional officials and employees hardly check the accuracy of PEAC’s submissions. DepEd also relies on PEAC to identify the duplicates in its database. As evidenced by its lack of an ISSP, DepEd is not in full control of its IT systems.
Why COA did this study
For FYs 2012-2017, the government allocated approximately ₱86.00 billion for the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) Program. The Department of Education (DepEd), through this Program, provides financial assistance to students and teachers in order to improve access to quality education and decongest the public schools. The Commission on Audit (COA) has identified the GASTPE program as one of the priority programs that will be subjected to performance audit apart from the request of the Secretary of Education.
This audit evaluated the economy efficiency, and effectiveness of the Program by looking at the following: (1) to what extent the Program achieved its goals and objectives; (2) to what extent DepEd ensured the neediest were prioritized; and (3) to what extent DepEd ensured proper administration of the Program.
In this audit, COA did the following: (1) looked at DepEd data for SY 2012-2013 to 2017-2018 and compared it with relevant laws, rules, and regulations; (2) interviewed DepEd officials; (3) conducted a survey with GASTPE beneficiaries and their parents as respondents; and (4) conducted information system evaluation on the four information systems of the GASTPE Program.
What COA recommends
COA recommends that DepEd:
(1) craft appropriate performance indicators to determine the extent the Program improved access to quality education and decongest the public schools;
(2) ensure that the Program prioritizes the underprivileged;
(3) immediately establish the GASTPE Composite Team and, thereafter, a dedicated and functional office to manage the Program; and
(4) develop its Information Systems Strategic Plan in order to integrate all the relevant Information Technology (IT) systems, including those purportedly owned by PEAC.