Senate Hearing Reveals Majority of ESC Program Beneficiaries are Not Poor

During a recent Senate hearing, startling revelations emerged regarding the Educational Service Contracting (ESC) program beneficiaries. Contrary to its intended purpose of aiding impoverished students, it was disclosed that a significant portion of recipients hailed from affluent backgrounds. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian’s examination of the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) brought to light concerning statistics regarding the demographic makeup of ESC beneficiaries.

For the academic year 2020-2021, a staggering 68% of ESC recipients were found to originate from non-poor households, with incomes exceeding or matching the per capita threshold. Similarly, in the preceding academic year 2019-2020, 59% of beneficiaries were from households classified as non-poor. The ESC program, a collaboration between the Department of Education (DepEd) and private institutions, was established to mitigate overcrowding in public junior high schools by subsidizing the tuition and fees of selected students from these institutions to attend private schools.

Senator Gatchalian’s office conducted an analysis revealing potential leakage within the ESC program, estimating that funds diverted to non-poor families could reach a staggering P8.6 billion. Expressing astonishment at these findings, Senator Gatchalian decried the injustice of the situation, highlighting the discrepancy between the program’s intended beneficiaries and its actual recipients.

In response to these revelations, Senator Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, emphasized the urgent need for corrective measures. He underscored the imperative of ensuring that the ESC program truly benefits those it was designed to aid – economically disadvantaged students. The Government Assistance and Subsidies Office (GASO) pledged to review and amend program guidelines to better target deserving beneficiaries and prevent further misallocation of funds.

The discrepancy uncovered in the ESC program underscores the importance of robust oversight and accountability measures in government initiatives aimed at addressing socio-economic disparities in education.


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