The Tarlac State University administration guaranteed that the Laboratory School (LS) would not be shut down despite the removal of the Department of Education's voucher program.
The parents of currently enrolled LS students were called for an assembly and forum last January 10, 2024 at the TSU Hotel in Lucinda Campus, where Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Agnes M. Macaraeg discussed the memorandum issued by the Commission on Higher Education on the discontinuance of the senior high school in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs).
TSU President Dr. Arnold E. Velasco assured the parents that the LS would continue its service even without the DepEd vouchers. The president also said LS students are being eyed as potential topnotchers in board examinations and valued and cared for in the university.
According to CHED Memo No. 241, s. 2023, dated December 28, 2023, SUCs and LUCs with laboratory schools can still operate and accept enrollees but are no longer eligible to receive vouchers under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE).
CHED Chairperson Dr. J. Prospero "Popoy" De Vera III said there was a "lack of legal basis" to continue the vouchers for the SHS offering in SUCs and LUCs, especially those without laboratory schools, because the five-year transition period (2016- 2021) had ended.
However, students entering grade 12 in school year 2023-2024 are still covered by the voucher to assist them in finishing their education.
During the assembly, the parents agreed to pay tuition fees pending a resolution from the parents' council formed on the same day.
VP Macaraeg also stated that the university can still find solutions to lessen the tuition fees by soliciting support from the provincial and city governments and assessing the university's income.
Moreover, TSU Board of Regents member Hon. Dennis Norman T. Go, who also worked behind the reinstitution of LS, suggested lobbying vouchers, financial assistance, or subsidies in the local government units and other university income.
The university will collect fees starting school year 2024-2025.
In 2021, the LS operated again following BOR Resolution No. 51, s. 2021 after its closure in 2015 due to funding concerns. Its operation under the supervision of the College of Education is supported by the new TSU charter or Republic Act 11695.
Also, in 2021, COED Dean Dr. Jasper Jay Mendoza said all teacher education institutions should maintain a laboratory school to provide avenues for pre-service teachers to undertake experiential learning courses per CHED Memo Order No. 74, s. 2017.
Laboratory schools are essential to the functions of teacher education institutions. It can support the COED in equipping future educators with theory and practice and strengthen the research and extension centers in the university. (jlmm-OPA)