DepEd, civil society groups join hands to ensure book quality and delivery
“Deliver quality books to public schools in the remotest barangays on time and make sure these are used by the pupils.”
This is the objective of the National Textbook Delivery Program (Textbook Count) and the Textbook Walk Program jointly initiated by the Department of Education’s Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS) and the civil society groups led by the Ateneo School of Government’s G-Watch.
Textbook Count is a joint government-civil society monitoring program that aims to ensure that the right quality and quantity of textbooks are received by the right beneficiaries at the right time.
The Textbook Walk is a synchronized school- and community-based activity where volunteers from the different sectors of society work together with DepEd personnel in bringing textbooks and other instructional materials from the school districts to the recipient elementary and high schools.
“Our goal here is 100% delivery in exact quantities of textbooks and teachers’ manuals to the recipient schools within the agreed delivery period,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
Part of the task of Textbook Count is to ensure that the physical quality of the instructional materials being produced is in accordance with the standards set by DepEd.
Luistro added that one of the features of the program is the inclusion of a feedback mechanism so that issues and concerns concerning production, delivery and usage of textbooks are addressed immediately.
A critical role being played by the civil society groups in this program is that their volunteers are active participants who observe intently the deliveries to public schools and assist the schools in conducting random inspection and counting of the delivered textbooks.
“If we want to improve the quality of education, if we want transparency and accountability, this is a good chance for all education stakeholders to share their time, effort and resources so that issues concerning textbooks are addressed in a systematic and comprehensive manner,” Luistro explained.
The program was started in 2003 and was initially participated in by Ateneo’s G-Watch and 7 other civil society organizations (CSOs). By 2008-2009, over 40 CSOs have joined the campaign that requires multi-stakeholder partnership and coordination.
Aside from G-Watch, some of the members of the Consortium of Textbook Count CSOs which signified their commitment to Textbook Count are the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, CODE-NGO, E-Net, PSLink, PTA, Transparency and Accountability Network, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, AVE and the Ateneo-initiated checkmyschool.org.
The program was considered a success and was cited by the World Bank as one of the good practices in governance that enhances transparency and accountability through citizen-government engagement.
Meanwhile, Ms. Joy Aceron of G-Watch said the challenge now for Textbook Count is to sustain the participation of community stakeholders and to ensure the transparency of the process and the accountability of the people involved in the program.
She added that the goal of Textbook Count 2011 is to come up with a more deliberate effort towards sustainability, both state-based and societal-based which may include crafting a working policy that supports a decentralized and school-based monitoring.