06 June 2012

Bantay Eskuwela Ambassador

By Riza Halili

Going to Marahan, Davao City is just like taking a scenic road trip to Baguio with  a breathtaking view of the mountains, trees, and the clear blue sky. It took us almost two hours to reach the Marahan East Primary School from Davao City proper.  It was a school with only four classrooms and being a primary school, its levels ranged from kinder to Grade 6, with only a few students in each level.  It was here that we met Ms. Ann Velez, the high spirited and dedicated principal of the school.

As we’ve done in around 15 other schools before this one, we conducted the Bantay Eskuwela orientation on monitoring school armchairs and school buildings. Ms. Velez was so enthusiastic about the initiative and even participated in the armchair inspection activities herself.  After which, we bid our good-byes as we had to visit 3 more schools for the orientation.  Just as we were about to leave, Ms. Velez asked if she could ride with us  back to the city, and of course we didn’t mind.

I thought she would only ride with us until the next school because all our scheduled activities would last the whole day. However, she stayed with us as we visited 3 other schools. Even if she had already attended the orientation, she still actively listened as we talked to the other school volunteers.  She even helped us distribute the snacks.

By 4:00pm, the team wrapped up its activities  at our last school in Suawan.  Due to the busy schedule, no one had a decent meal for lunch. Despite this, Ms. Velez did not complain and her enthusiasm never waned.

On our way back to the van (the last school entailed some trekking before reaching the van), she asked me, “Ma’am, pwede din ba ako mag-orientation? (Ma’am, may I join an orientation?)” to which I thought she meant whether she can attend another Bantay Eskwuela orientation.  However,  she clarified herself by saying, “Hindi po, gusto ko rin mag conduct ng orientation ng Bantay Eskuwela sa iba pang schools. Gustong-gusto ko talaga itong Bantay Eskuwela. Makakatulong talaga ito sa marami!” (No, I also want to conduct Bantay Eskuwela orientations in other schools. I really like Bantay Eskuwela. This will really help a lot of people!) To this I replied with a resounding “yes!”

You can imagine my surprise! This was the first time a principal not only expressed her interest in Bantay Eskuwela, but also volunteered to be a Bantay Eskuwela ambassador without even asking for any form of financial support. Indeed, ensuring transparency, accountability, and value for money in education does not end with the parents’ organizations and other local civic groups.  It lies in each and every one of us.

Miss Riza Halili is the Deputy Team Manager of Cluster 1 of the Philippine Desk of ANSA-EAP.  ANSA-EAP also produced a video about Bantay Eskuwela which you can view here.

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