Moving Up to Make Government Respond: Multiply-Ed convenes 450 education stakeholders in 5 Regional Multi-Sectoral Conferences

From May to June, 450 students, teachers, parents, government officials, and representatives from CSOs and private sector were gathered for the Multiply-Ed Regional Multi-Sectoral Conferences (RMSC) held in Bicol, NCR, Mindanao, Palawan, and Cebu.

All of them have one goal: to improve the public education system.

The RMSC is a follow-up engagement of X-Ed with division-level and regional-level duty-bearers to ensure the delivery of their commitments given during the problem-solving sessions in each of the divisions. It is also a space for right-holders to plan ways on how to advocate for the X-Ed reform agenda and sustain the network created through this initiative.

Finding education champions and allies at the local government

Aside from providing updates on their commitments, government officials who attended also expressed their support and solidarity.

In Bicol, Naga City Vice Mayor Nene de Asis acknowledged the importance of a citizen-led monitoring and advocacy initiative stating that mas maigi na nasasabaihan kami ng mga nagagawa na namin at kung ano pa ang kailangan pa tugunan.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, in his solidarity message during the NCR RMSC, recognized the value of education stakeholders coming together to come up with ways on how we are going to change how we do things in order to improve the public education system. He also encouraged the participants to put pressure on duty-bearers and holding them to account.

Councilor Abdanie Tagoranao of Marawi City expressed his support to the policy proposals of X-Ed on Local School Boards (LSBs) by promising that he will sponsor a resolution calling for student/youth representation at the Marawi LSB.

New schools that were invited and other DepEd officials also showed interest in partnering with X-Ed to conduct monitoring in other schools not covered by the project.

Sustaining the momentum

The movement doesn’t stop with promises. Recognizing the need to organize to ensure commitments from duty-bearers are delivered and the X-Ed reform agenda is advanced, each sites formed their own senior high school students coalition called SHS Assemblies composed of senior high school student leaders from various schools.

During the launch of the SHS Assemblies, students were given space to briefly share their story and express support to the reform-agenda. Some shared the challenges that they face in learning, as well as their own commitment to improve the public education system.

In order to sustain the network built through the project, all participants across the sites plan to formally establish a local chapter of Multiply-Ed, with all schools present as founding members. Through this, they intend not just to do monitoring and advocacy, but also other activities to support the needs of their schools. They also plan to partner with the government, particulary DepEd and LGU, as well as other NGOs and foundations.

Each schools were also given the time to plan ways in which they can advance the X-Ed reform agenda in their own schools. Aside from institutionalizing X-Ed in their schools (i.e., forming a school organization/club or committee), a lot of them plan to maximize existing mechanisms such as the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Supreme Student Government (SSG), and School Governing Council (SGC). Particularly for the SGCs, participants--mostly also members of their school’s SGC--supported X-Ed’s proposal to strengthen their role as a monitoring mechanism at the school-level.

Synergizing humanitarian and social accountability actions

In her opening remarks during the NCR RMSC, Joy Aceron of G-Watch highlighted the need to synergize private donations and social accountability actions. According to her, “this synergy of humanitarian or private sector support for direct services and social accountability can be leveraged to make government more responsive and effective.”

In order to do this, private foundations and organizations were invited to attend the RMSC. Students and teachers were encouraged to set up booths wherein they can share what the needs of their schools.