Meeting education needs in the time of pandemic: Youth-led monitoring of education service

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Philippines’ education system.

April 14, 2022 by Victoria Maglanque, Government Watch, Philippines
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4 minutes read
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MultiplY-Ed special monitoring team conducting physical inspection in Ugong National High School, Pasig City.
MultiplY-Ed special monitoring team conducting physical inspection in Ugong National High School, Pasig City.

The emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 affected millions of students and teachers around the world.

In the Philippines, the pandemic further exacerbated already existing challenges in the country’s education governance. For example, lockdowns related to COVID-19 forced schools to close and shift to distance learning, leaving even more students struggling to get access to education.

Enrollment dropped in the first year of the pandemic, with only 26.2 million students enrolling (compared with 27.7 million for previous school year). The number of enrollees for the 2021–2022 school year only improved marginally to 27.3 million, which is still lower than the pre-pandemic figures.

Those students who can enroll in school, however, still face numerous difficulties. Likewise, teachers are expected to quickly adapt to new teaching modalities despite not having enough training, resources, and equipment, with many using their own resources to fill the gaps.

These issues have greatly affected the mental well-being of students and teachers, who are unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the rapid and drastic changes resulting from the pandemic.

While the Department of Education (DepEd) has made efforts to address these problems through its Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP), its challenges, including a budget that isn’t fully responsive to the crisis, have made it harder to ensure that Filipino students receive quality education.

Empowering rights holders through social accountability

To help address these challenging situation, the Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking (CYAN), together with Government Watch (G-Watch), is implementing the MultiplY-Ed Project, with the support of Education Out Loud.

MultiplY-Ed is a youth-led multi-sectoral and multilevel project for monitoring of education policies to improve transparency, participation and accountability in education governance. In particular, it aims to monitor the implementation of learning continuity plans for senior high schools and the transition to face-to-face classes post-COVID focusing on three education services: curriculum and learning resource, teachers’ training and access to education during the pandemic.

Youth, parents, teachers and non-teaching staff receive training on easy-to-use tools that they can use to monitor government service delivery and to generate data to inform policy advocacy.

Furthermore, this approach also creates a citizenry that is informed, organized and capacitated in holding duty bearers to account and making them respond to peoples’ demands.

MultiplY-Ed team getting inputs from education stakeholders (i.e., students, education and school officials) during the project’s tool development workshop.
MultiplY-Ed team getting inputs from education stakeholders (i.e., students, education and school officials) during the project’s tool development workshop.
MultiplY-Ed team getting inputs from education stakeholders (i.e., students, education and school officials) during the project’s tool development workshop.
MultiplY-Ed team getting inputs from education stakeholders (i.e., students, education and school officials) during the project’s tool development workshop.

Youth-led monitoring of the return to classes

When DepEd implemented a pilot of limited face-to-face classes, youth monitors decided to conduct a monitoring activity with the objective of providing an independent assessment of the country’s readiness for face-to-face classes, as well as to provide recommendations to help ensure that the public education system can adapt to the new normal during and after the pandemic.

This activity was also an opportunity for the youth to get firsthand experience in doing accountability work, together with G-Watch mentors.

"[The special monitoring] made me realize its true relevance and timeliness as I was able to observe the realities of the schools—the students, teachers and other staff—who are still struggling to adjust from the online/modular setup of learning to a new normal learning through face-to-face classes."

Jedidiah Sarmiento, MultiplY-Ed team member
MultiplY-Ed special monitoring team conducting physical inspection in Ugong National High School, Pasig City.
MultiplY-Ed special monitoring team conducting physical inspection in Ugong National High School, Pasig City.

The results of this monitoring activity were presented to education stakeholders and representatives from DepEd, who endorsed the project and requested its regional offices to support the MultiplY-Ed team when it further conducts its independent monitoring.

MultiplY-Ed announcing official endorsement of the project by the Department of Education.
MultiplY-Ed announcing official endorsement of the project by the Department of Education.

The introduction of sustainable changes, such as youth-led monitoring activities, to ensure a responsive, resilient and accountable education system is key in the face of change.

The COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last, and the youth involved in this MultiplY-Ed project will help ensure the education system is a step closer toward inclusion when the next crisis occurs.

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Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking Inc. (CYAN) is a youth-led and youth-serving non government organization. It attempts to change the political culture and landscape of youth participation and involvement through innovative programs and support services.

Government Watch (G-Watch) is an independent national action research organization that works to promote dialogues in the Transparency-Participation- Accountability (TPA) field. It ultimately aims to contribute in the deepening of democracy through the scaling of accountability and citizen empowerment.

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East Asia and Pacific: Philippines

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It sounds interesting and encouraging to engage youth in monitoring educ systems for accountability and related issues. GPE should think of its replication in different environments like in Sub Saharan Africa. Please give it a try

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