CheckMySchool.org: Tracking schools through technology

By JOLAN ANGELES and KAI PASTORES
January 29, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Monitoring the Philippine education system has never been this easy.

In a memorandum of agreement signing held last January 14, at the Ateneo de Manila University, the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia-Pacific (ANSA-EAP) made formal their partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) in bringing about more transparency and accountability to the nation’s education system.

Check my school
CheckMySchool.org is the latest project of ANSA-EAP and the DepEd that aims to bring relevant and significant information about public schools to the general public.

During the signing ceremony, Education Undersecretary Francisco Varela represented DepEd, while Dr. Edna P. Franco, vice president for administration and planning of AdMU signed on behalf of the university. Representing ANSA-EAP was its director Dr. Angelita Gregorio-Medel.

As an example, ANSA cited Madopdop Elementary School in Kalinga province, which has only 29 students but was built to accommodate 100. The students of Madopdop scored an average of 35 percent in the country’s National Achievement Test (NAT), well below the nationwide average of 65 percent Aside from this, said ANSA, the school has no toilet bowl for its students and gets a yearly operating budget of only P11,000.

Information such as these will go a long way towards monitoring our public school system, says ANSA. With CheckMySchool.org, Filipinos can easily track the situation of government schools around the country.

First of its kind
Harnessing the power of the Internet, the website taps into Google Maps and gets information from DepEd and global positioning coordinates (GPS) of government school buildings.

The project is the first of its kind in the country, and hopes to attract other groups and individuals to help out by providing important information about their schools. Aside from statistics about number of students and average NAT scores, CheckMySchool.org also provides citizens with Internet and mobile phone tools to provide information about the schools in their areas. The project gives up-to-date information on “the facilities, conditions, and relative performance of about 8,000 government elementary and high schools throughout the country.”

CheckMySchool.org is an innovativeway to ensure that the Philippine public school system is working the way it should through transparency.

If anyone can check the status of their schools, it would serve as an incentive for the government and school board to make sure their school is at par with the national standard and performs well.

Volunteerism
According to CheckMySchool.org project head Dondon Parafina, this program can also encourage more private donors and companies to help improve our public schools. Interested donors will only have to go to the site and see what the biggest needs of a particular school are that they are interested to help. This can also foster greater community collaboration since different stakeholders in the community can easily determine where they can contribute towards the development and improvement of a public school that is located in their area.

Currently, Parafina also mentioned that they are talking to computer colleges all around the country in the hope of recruiting its students to volunteer to update the database of the site and to ensure that the information is always accurate.

They have also started discussions with a freight and forwarding company that would help them in determining the GPS coordinates of schools found in far flung areas in the country.

He said that through these initiatives, CheckMySchool.org has already become a platform for collaboration among various groups that are engaged in public education reform.

ANSA-EAP is a project hosted by the Ateneo School of Government, with support from the World Bank Institute.

To volunteer or for more information about CheckMySchool.org, you may contact the ANSA-EAP Operations Team at (02) 4266062 or email them at info@ansa-eap.net.

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