CheckMySchool Initiative – Transforming Transparency, Social Responsibility, One School at a Time

Jul 22, 2018

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For the past three years, a local non-government organization has taken up the cudgels to act as the eyes and ears of civic society to identify and seek solutions to issues and problems of Cagayan de Oro’s 124 public schools.

The CheckMySchool (CMS) initiative has visited just under a hundred of the city’s 124 primary and secondary schools in pursuit of its constructive engagement agenda under the Social Accountability Framework in the last 36 months.

“CMS aims to continuously improve the quality of public educational services in the Philippines,” said Jonathan M. Mongcal, CMS chapter coordinator, who engaged in the initiative as Executive Director of the NGO Citizens Watch for Good Governance (CWGG). “We partner with other organizations and identify NGOs willing to partner with us in our mission.”

CMS started in 2011 as an experimental partnership project with the Department of Education (DepEd) along the advocacy for access to information and social accountability. It is a participatory monitoring initiative for the education sector in the Philippines which aims to continuously improve the quality of education services by engaging citizens and communities into the governance of public schools in the country.


CMS operates in three stages: data access, feedback, and issue resolution. All these stages require training for volunteers and linkaging with various stakeholders. The complete cycle normally takes three to six months to finish.

During a recent CMS exhibit at Plaza Divisoria set up by its volunteers, the group shared its successful “Stories of Change” arising from its monitoring activities.

ChooseMySchool Chapter Coordinator Jonathan Mongcal helps set up the CMS exhibit at Plaza Divisoria with high school student volunteers (RMB)

 

Improvement/Renovation of Cugman Elementary School: The CMS team visited school in Feb. 2015 and found a four door classroom which was unused with no visible improvements works going on. The principal acknowledged the concern raised by the team and the building was fully furnished and ready for the opening of classes by June for SY 2015-2016.

At the Sacred Heart Village Elementary School, the principal converted the comfort room at the ground floor of the school building to address the need for a school clinic, as recommended by the CMS team.

High school student volunteers set up the ChooseMySchool exhibit at Plaza Divisoria (RMB)

 

“Throughout the CMS operations, school authorities have been cooperative in discussing and addressing issues and concerns raised by the visiting CMS team,” Mongcal said. “The principals and teachers engaged the team in conversation with the volunteers. In the process, information was collected openly and accurately on time.”

Still, much remains to be done. Mongcal cites the  Kiam-is Elementary School, located some 7 kilometers by rough road from the Barangay Lumbia poblacion with no  water connection and rainwater as its only source of drinking water. CMS is still actively seeking partners to fund and adopt the project.  

In addition to its monitoring and evaluating public schools, CMS also undertakes the following Special Projects: SaGIFT Aral Educational Kit Distribution, SaGIFT Aral First Aid Kit Distribution, SaGIFT Aral Tutorial Class Project, and SaGIFT Aral Supplemental Feeding Day Project.

“We have served three schools in 2016, two in 2017 and are finalizing beneficiaries for the coming school years for the SaGiftAral Educational Toolkit Project,” Mongcal said.

“In 2016, CMS partnered with Kiwanis International Macajalar Bay who invited us to present it to their members during one of their regular meetings,” Mongal said.”We identified the beneficiaries and KI Macajalar Bay provided the school supplies.”  


Other partners engaged by CMS for its SaGIFT Aral project include DepEd, Mindanao Daily, Voice Network, Cagayan de Oro LGU, and ABAMIN Partylist, Regional Training Center (RTC) 10, Ranao Women and Children Resource Center (RWCRC) and private individuals and friends.

CMS is preparing to undertake its initial foray into SaGIFT Aral First Aid Kit with 150 toothbrushes donated by Doctors Generic Pharma to be incorporated into hygiene kits, while Kong Hua School has already committed to a SaGIFT Aral Tutorial Class Project with the immersion of its Senior High students in public schools.

However, Mongcal admits formidable obstacles have so far constrained them from undertaking a SaGIFT Aral Supplemental Feeding Day Project.

But this has not deterred organizations such as the Tagoloan Community College (TCC) – Community Development Students’ Organization from volunteering their assistance to CMS.

“The CMS Initiative served as a venue for students to experience actual advocacy work, to understand and appreciate the value of volunteerism, partnership and the significant roles of every citizen to contribute to society. The student volunteers were taking Community Development and Sociology courses at TCC,” Mongcal said.

This engagement was also supported by the City School Division of Cagayan de Oro, Local Governance Resource Center (LGRC) of the DILG Regional Office 10, GROUP Foundation, Inc. and VOICE Network.

CMS also cited the solid support from the Office of the City Mayor and Cagayan de Oro City Local School Board headed by City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno as LSB Chair who has endorsed CMS under the education program of his 8 point agenda for Cagayan de Oro.

 ANSA-EAP

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) Foundation, Inc. hosts and implements the CMS initiative with support from the Open Society Foundation. It is a non-stock, non-profit corporation registered under the Philippine law.

The ANSA-EAP promotes social accountability in the region by providing networking and learning facilities. By social accountability, it advocates the process of constructive engagement between citizens and government for the monitoring the use of public resources. It aims to improve the delivery of public services, promote community welfare and protect people’s rights.

For more information and partnering opportunities, contact Jonathan M. Mongcal, Chapter Coordinator, mobile 0935-877-1333, or email: jonathan.mongcal@gmail.com.

 

–  INDJC –

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