02 May 2013

Taking CMS Public: Accountability & Constructive Engagement

This piece is a slightly edited version of a speech that Executive Director Dondon Parafina delivered during the Checkmyschool.org’s public presentation, held 15 April 2013 in Manila, Philippines.

Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of ANSA East Asia & Pacific, I welcome you to this event, where the Checkmyschool (CMS) team will present to the bigger public the results of its undertakings in the last 12 months. They will share with us the accomplishments and lessons of efforts to advance transparency and social accountability (SAc) in various public schools in the country.

ANSA-EAP is very fortunate to have the opportunity to incubate the CMS initiative since 2010. As a regional platform for SAc networking and learning, it has seen the value of utilizing ICT for transparency and SAc work. There are still very few initiatives of this type and I really hope that the experiences of CMS are providing good lessons to inspire more groups to follow.
You may ask why we have to do a public presentation.

We call it public presentation, but this is definitely not for publicity nor is it for simply popularizing the initiative.

It is actually for our own accountability, which we ultimately owe to the public. As part of civil society, Checkmyschool must also account for what it has done, what it has failed to do, the knowledge it has collected, and the engagements with government it has made. These we have to do because it is through the public and the citizenry that we could truly validate the meaning and relevance of our work.

As social accountability practitioners and advocates, the Checkmyschool team (from the secretariat to the area coordinators to the infomediaries and volunteers) had been oriented on the approach of constructive engagement with and responsible citizen monitoring of government, which in this case, is mainly DepEd and its various offices and schools. The CMS members talked and dialogued with people in government to secure their serious involvement in this initiative. They also visited schools and painstakingly checked services therein to get information on the real condition of our schools and our schoolchildren. They are volunteers who devoted personal time, energy and resources to respond to our call for active citizenship. This public presentation is also for them, so that they get the broader public recognition of their contribution.

Further, this public presentation aims to highlight the result of our interface with government. We thank the Department of Education for its support and cooperation to Checkmyschool. I believe that this translates into the Department's support for transparency and social accountability itself. The CMS team exerted great effort to fully engage the Department in the various stages of its activities and we hope it was all received in the spirit of constructive engagement. The CMS visits and data updating efforts in various schools were also vital experiences that we hope DepEd will always welcome, despite the different kinds of feedback and observations it received and still receives because of this exercise.

So today, I hope that everyone here will have a better appreciation of the Checkmyschool initiative and that it will fulfill the imperative of submitting its work for public scrutiny and judgment. Your comments and insights on the Checkmyschool report will be highly valued. They will determine and define the reason for continuing this kind of work.

Thank you again, on behalf of the ANSA East Asia & Pacific, and good afternoon.


Dondon Parafina is the Executive Director of ANSA-EAP and a decade-long practitioner and advocate of social accountability.

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