Checkmyschool

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Checkmyschool

Nationwide, PhilippinesNationwide, Philippines
Year Founded:
2011
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Checkmyschool (CMS) aims to improve service delivery in public education. It combines online (digital technology) and offline (community mobilization) mechanisms to provide access to education information, platform for citizen feedback, and a network that works together to solve school issues.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the government and citizens combine their efforts to provide better services in public schools?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The main problem this intervention addresses is the poor services in public schools - toilets, books, etc. The causes of this problem are (1) the inaccuracy of the information used as reference for the intervention (e.g. a school is listed but is not existing); (2) weak feedback mechanism (e.g. it takes a month to a year for an issue report to be responded); and (3) citizens are not involved (e.g. citizens blames the gov't when they can also act)

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Checkmyschool engages both the citizens and government to work together in solving school issues. It initiates formal partnership with the government to secure education information is to the public and to secure response in reported issues. Website and social media are used to provide access to information. In addition to these two technology are the SMS and information intermediaries which allows people to send feedback even without internet connection. Annual monitoring is done in schools. Networking with different stakeholders - private sector, academe, donors, government - is also done to consolidate different efforts done on education. The network works together in monitoring and responding to issues reported by the citizens.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

After conducting school monitoring in Sta. Fe Leyte, the volunteers of Checkmyschool found out that there are lack of textbooks. The lead volunteer reported the issue to the CMS website and posted pictures about it. The report was forwarded to the government for their response. After a week, the office in-charge of the textbooks answered and prompted its local counterpart to reallocate the textbooks and deliver it to the school. See video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jwRYF0Y3Qc Similar stories can be also found in other areas. One is in Domingo Lacson HS, Bacolod where the alumni sponsored toilets when they saw the report online. New school building was also built in Rangaban ES, North Cotabato after the monitoring of schools.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Quantitative: CMS has resolved 88 of 158 issues in 256 schools that it has covered in the second run. Of the 60 trained volunteers, 90% retained from year 1 to 3. These trained volunteers cascades the learning to volunteers in the schools which has approximately reached to 3,000. The volunteers were able to provide an updated data of 100 schools. In addition to this, information about the 46,000 schools can be also found in the CMS website. Qualitative: The initiative was able to provide better services as in the case of repaired school buildings in Iloilo province, and new toilets for schools in Manila. School stakeholders (i.e. students and parents) became more aware on their rights and responsibilities in the schools so they conducted monitoring and demanded for resolution of issues in the government. The government also became open to sharing information and responding to reports.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Sustainability of the CMS program is envisioned through a social enterprise and wherein financial revenue and resources shall be revenue at both local and national levels through partnerships with academic institutions, citizen organizations, and other sectors that are willing to help donate money to the program while paying a certain portion as administrative and monitoring fee. Institutionalization of the program in schools is also worked out.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The proposed soiution is innovative because it brings together schools with specific needs and possible donors. It is assumed that donors are careful with where they bring their donations into and as such, they would bring it to channels where risks are quite low. This is the first program in the Philippines that aim to help improve the delivery of public education services through constructive engagement between citizens and the government, using the school information and validation of the community members about the state of their schools.
Team

Founding Story

The idea of Checkmyschool started in 2010 as a project incubated inside the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific. Initially, the idea is to map schools and show the information about it so people can send their feedback on it. However, based on consultation with stakeholders, they wanted it to be more useful by providing solution to school issues so the project evolved from just providing information and feedback platform to a program which closes the loop by securing that information shared are responded by the government. Other citizen groups are involved to also provide interventions in case the government has limitation in the resources. Now, the project is on its scale-up stage at its 3rd year.
About You
Organization:
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific
About You
First Name

Jecel

Last Name

Censoro

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific

Organization Country

, Nationwide

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Nationwide

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

The main strategies is to scale-up and sustain. To scale-up means to cover more schools and more areas. This can be done through combined use of online and offline mechanisms. SMS will be strengthened to connect schools without internet. Offline means to involve more people and organizations in the project.

To sustain means to grow the resources and make the program institutionalize in the government. Growing of resources will be done through a social enterprise. Institutionalization in the government can be done through a a policy that will endorse CMS in all schools.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Barriers include limitation in the technology available, uncooperative government, and volunteers who are preoccupied in doing other things.

To solve the technology limitation, CMS is using the power of the people to serve as bridge for schools who do not have connection. For the uncooperative government, CMS is investing in relationships built with other government officials who can push for the program. For the volunteers, CMS is introducing an incentive system to motivate them to finish the task. CMS is also trying to simplify the process to make the work easier for volunteers.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

CMS has broad partnerships ranging from government, private sectors, academe, donors, youth groups, etc. There are formal partnerships which involves a Memorandum of Agreement and informal partnerships which usually involves sharing of information and resources (i.e. volunteers).

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Demonstrate how closed feedback loops can make a difference in people’s lives.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

CMS makes sure that information shared by the citizens (i.e. results of monitoring and reported school issues) are acted upon by the government. Through a combined use of offline and online mechanism, CMS empowers the people to demand better services from the government by encouraging them to send feedback and do follow-ups. On the other hand, the government and also other stakeholders (i.e. private sector) are also engaged to act on the information shared to them. Recognition to the government or citizen groups is also done once result has been provided.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

Checkmyschool (CMS) engages citizens—from the school community, government, and other education stakeholders—to gather data about school resources in public schools in the Philippines. This includes quantitative information (e.g. number of classrooms, class size, number of books, number of functional toilets, etc.), as well as qualitative data—describing the state of these schools’ resources, and the reasons behind these (e.g. low enrolment rate due to relocations of communities/transferees, lack of usable textbooks due to flooding or termites). The consolidated school information is uploaded to the website for public consumption, after dialogue and discussions with stakeholders (Department of Education and local government) to discuss possible interventions and responses to the issues.

By making education-related information more accessible to communities and other education stakeholders, CMS aims to facilitate improvement in delivery of services in the public education sector, through collaborative problem-solving of practical school issues. CMS aims to facilitate quicker response to feedback by sharing education information, gathered by citizens, to the local and national government to generate appropriate interventions and services, and ultimately, influence policy. Likewise, education-related information are shared with citizen groups, business organizations, and other education stakeholders who can be of help to these schools.

CMS’ envisions public schools with quality education services and improved performance enabled by involved citizens, empowered communities, and responsive government. This can be done by making information from the citizens and government accessible, giving a voice to the citizens, acting on the feedback, involving people to take action, and make sure that services are delivered to the clients. With better service delivery, CMS believes that it will improve the performance of students and other education stakeholders.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Improve quality of programs

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

SMS, Paper, Phone or voice, Website, Physical gathering, Other.

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

The feedback loop of CMS is embedded within the online and offline components that complement each other. The online component of CMS include a website that holds information about the schools in the Philippines; social media accounts that includes Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to help spread the word about the program; and an SMS-based system that receives education-related feedback. School information are products of community monitoring efforts, and are brought to education stakeholders (local government and local Department of Education or DepEd) before making these information publicly available. The information received by CMS shall be part of the reports being sent to local and national government offices in charge of ensuring that public education services are well delivered. The feedback serves as the basis by which calls for better public education services in CMS areas are made.

Feedback is collected through CMS’ online and offline mechanisms. The feedback can be in the form of reports gathered during school monitoring / “data-updating” using the CMS forms. These forms are meant to collect quantitative information (e.g. number of seats, number of enrollment) and qualitative information (e.g. seats have hanging nails) on schools. Photos and videos that describe the actual state of education services are also collected and made available in the CMS website. This information is forwarded to the CMS digital platforms and are processed using a standard formula for allocation of resources made by the Department of Education. From the formula, CMS determines the needs and available resources in the schools. These information are shared with the government and other public education stakeholder for issue resolution, and to serve as inputs to policy recommendations.

Feedback is forwarded by citizens to Checkmyschool.org. Feedback through physical gathering is also uploaded onto the site. Feedback sent to the CMS SMS hotline (a regular eleven-digit mobile number) is sent straight to the feedback section of the site,where it is publicly available. All the feedback received by CMS for a particular month are consolidated and sent to authorities for possible action.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Option to provide feedback anonymously

If other, please specify

A local team that is composed of government, citizen groups, academe, and media to provide network and social support.

What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify

Generation of results, such as resolution of school issues that were identified in the data from school monitoring.

How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify

CMS asks for recommendations from DepED on what particular areas need to be covered in its operations. Most of the recommended a

What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

They understand that feedback is necessary

If other, please specify

CMS gives awards to its supportive government partners. In some cases, it also helps in improving credibility as leaders

How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Reports on collected information

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

On a website

If other, please specify

social media accounts. These are also shared at the local areas through the conduct of local stakeholders’ dialogues.

Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

Mayor Christine Garin of the municipality of Guimbal, Iloilo, requested CMS to include her municipality in the program. She assigned Ms. Ruby Joy Eala to be the CMS Area Coordinator, to facilitate the CMS operations in Guimbal. Ms. Eala organized a group of community volunteers who will monitor the delivery of school services in the town of Guimbal. These groups include out of school youth, youth organizations, teachers, parents and other members of the community. The information collected during school monitoring was used by the local government to identify the needs of the school. The school issues were reported to the members of the local school board and to school heads. Some of the issues were also forwarded to the Congressional District Representative, Hon. Janet Garin for resolution. Here, the government themselves engaged members of the community to conduct the school monitoring, to aid in resolution of of issues of their schools.

During the exit meeting / dialogue for issue resolution in the municipality of Midsayap, North Cotabato, last December 13, 2013, the local government of Midsayap, and the Department of Education-Cotabato Division agreed to work out the land registration of schools and the need for water and sanitation facilities of the schools in the area. This was the resolution after hearing the case of Dabpil Sampulna Olandang High School, one of Midsayap schools covered by the data-updating / school monitoring of CMS. The school currently rests on a mortgaged lot after being forced to leave its original location.
As a result, the community members and teachers themselves are pooling resources just for the school to have its own lot.

These issues were identified after school monitoring was done in fifty schools in Midsayap during the first week of December 2013. Improvement of the facilities in Dabpil Sampulna Olandang High Schools and other schools in Midsayap were also noted

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Given that some schools do not have internet access and some school coordinators aren't very familiar with the internet, the website and social media platforms of CMS are underused. Keeping these limitations in mind, how can we convince school stakeholders to be more involved and engaged online?
More aggressive campaigning of the SMS hotline is another way to encourage feedback, especially for areas without internet access.

Some of the challenges faced by the feedback mechanism include the need to constantly encourage stakeholders to provide information about the schools and use the CMS website to gather and share information about the schools; the need for updated education-related information from both citizens and government; and the need to ensure that the website and social media accounts are always utilized and maximized.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Lack of incentives for people to provide feedback

If other, please specify

Stronger tech-based platform to process the gathered information automatically

Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I would like to be on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

The development of a CMS mobile app is in the works, with the aim to provide another platform and increase collection of feedback. The app is envisioned to be a simple photo-capturing app, where users can take photos of practical school issues that need response, tag their photos based on the kind of issue (seats, textbooks, water and sanitation, toilets, etc.), add a caption explaining the issue, add a location, and share their post onto social media (Facebook, Twitter). The goal is for these photo feedback reports to be eventually consolidated onto the feedback section of www.checkmyschool.org. Once develop is could be made available on the Feedback Store for users in the Philippines to send feedback on their schools.

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

To widen the call for entries even to countries who do not speak in English. CMS believes that there are a lot more of interesting stories on the feedback loop. It would be great to learn more about them. CMS sees Closing the Loop more as a space to improve itself by learning from others and a space to broadcast its work to share its experience in order to encourage others do something similar.

The current email reminders are very much appreciated, as well as prompt responses from the organizers!

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

CMS conducts capacity-building activities and produces learning materials to guide stakeholders in the process of monitoring and providing of feedback. Learning materials such as “What to Check” guides, and several learning videos are made available to guide stakeholders on certain standards to follow during school monitoring. This aims to facilitate demand from citizens to voice out their concerns, if and when they see that services in the schools are not delivered according to the standards.

CMS also conducts actual trainings and mentorships to guide stakeholders in the monitoring. This is specifically helpful for areas which has limitations in accessing technology and the Internet, since actual people serve as the trainers and messengers for them. A community of education stakeholders are also engaged in the series of capacity building exercises so they can verify and cross-check the gathered data, in case there are faults in providing information.

CMS facilitates the conduct of the school monitoring and issue resolution programs through the conduct of dialogues between citizens and government representatives to level off expectations and for both parties to be guided in terms of the schedule of school visits, schedule of monitoring, and action steps that can be undertaken for the issue resolution process of CMS. The feedback providers--school stakeholders--are encouraged to be part of the discussions and dialogues in the process.

CMS also makes sure that something is happening to their feedback. Whether it is as simple as getting a response to getting actual resolution such as repaired building, CMS makes sure that information leads to good services. Knowing that something has happened to the feedback is already a big deal to citizens who let their voice be heard.

Comments

Know ideas to make the government adopt this program in their system?

Know some ideas how to scale-up the project to more schools without internet connection?

Know other groups and individuals who might be interested to volunteer on this program?

Interested to replicate this in your country?

Tell us!:)

Mari Kuraishi's picture

I like the idea of being able to report what's working and what's not working in a given school. I'm not sure though, that it's wise to link it to donations explicitly. To get people to give, it usually works better to have a positive plan for how it's going to be fixed, which the people providing the feedback may or may not be in a position to provide. On the other hand if the school were to take the feedback as input into what they propose to do, then the feedback could be a great input into the positive plan. I realize the temptation to vertically integrate is high when so many different dimensions of the problem need addressing. But it might be easier to attack in stages than to try and tackle all at once.

Matt Kepple's picture

An initiative that speeds up the feedback loop sounds like a good idea.

Matt Kepple's picture

An initiative that speeds up the feedback loop sounds like a good idea.

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