Learn. Laugh. Make a Difference: Training on Social Accountability, the G-Watch Way!

Opening Remarks
Training on G-Watch as a Social Accountability Approach
(Hotel del Rio, Iloilo City, 2 April 2011)

On behalf of our Dean, Dean Tony La Vina, who couldn’t make it because he is now in Rome for the climate change work, the Ateneo School of Government thanks you for attending this seminar, for devoting almost a week of your time to be with us. Rest assured that we are working hard to ensure that your time here will be worth it.

We are grateful that you are here and you are part of this project because this is a very important moment in the history of G-Watch. G-Watch is on its 10th year now and this event marks many firsts in G-Watch’s life as a program.

It is the first time that we will be applying G-Watch in local governance. You all know this by now. From achieving milestones in engaging central government agencies, we are testing G-Watch in local governance. Consequently, it is the first time that we’ve mobilized in one event several LGUs with their respective CSOs. We find the potential richness of interaction among all of you across LGUs, across CSOs, really exciting and something worth all the efforts of pulling this off.

It is the first that we are training our partners in doing G-Watch—on the G-Watch technology of setting and implementing a monitoring initiative. All our capacity-building activities in the past were for monitors, where the the trainees only get to learn how to implement the monitoring plan and use the monitoring tool already designed and developed. This time, you will learn how a G-Watch monitoring initiative is created and the orientation of constructive engagement that serves as its foundation. Finally, it is the first time that the G-Watch Team is complete in undertaking an activity. Even in Manila, because of the many projects that we implement, we hardly, if not never, come together as a whole to undertake an initiative. So this is really special for us and we thank you for celebrating this many firsts with us.

Let me set the tone of the training by introducing the brand of ASoG education that we are hoping our 6-day training to embody.

ASoG is the graduate school of leadership and public service of the Ateneo de Manila University. We offer Masters in Public Management, but beyond the formal education that we offer, we consider the entire country as a classroom from where we learn and where we facilitate learning of our students—our partners and co-advocates to advance advocacies we see critical in the country such as social accountability, sustainable development, political reform, poverty reduction towards the end goal of building a just and prosperous society.

ASoG’s brand of education is the marrying of theory and practice where academic knowledge is used in order to solve practical problems of our time. It tries to achieve that balance between the realm of ideas and the concrete realities that ideas must contend with to make a difference in real time, real space.

Our approach to change and development is what we call a mosaic approach where scattered efforts and actors working towards change and development are facilitated by the School to come together as pieces of the puzzle that if put together would form an alternative picture of the country.

This seminar serves as another classroom of ASoG. It will be a microcosm of what we endeavor to achieve all over the country.

First, we hope that through this seminar, we will learn from each other. Take note that we put emphasis on shared learning, a two-way process where you will share with us what you know just as we facilitate your learning of what we know. As we’ve been emphasizing, this is the first time that our program G-Watch is applied in the local arena. You are the experts when it comes to your local context and we hope to learn from you so that the application of our technology, which we will share with you, will be responsive to your context.

Second, we learn not for learning sake, but to achieve a purpose. I think all of us will agree with the grand end goal of building a just and prosperous society, but that’s too big a goal. For now, for this project, we want to at least make a dent in improving the service delivery of your LGUs by trying out an approach in enhancing accountability and transparency through constructive engagement of civil society and government in performance monitoring, which is the G-Watch approach. Take note of this objective because our learning should lead us to getting this objective done.

Third, just like the ASoG, our 6-day school will provide the balance of theory and practice. We will learn the ideas, the principles, the thoughts behind what you need to learn, while learning how to put those ideas into action, apply those principles and concretize those thoughts to solve real problems.

Fourth, like the School, this 6-day School brings together different people from different background, with varying knowledge, skills and perspectives. May our 6-day activity provide an opportunity for us to create a mini-mosaic where we all, with our experience personal and professional, become pieces of a puzzle that if put together can make up a picture that is different from the present. Let this be an opportunity for us to be a community where each one is a critical part of a whole that spells the difference. 

Finally, and this is unique to the Team handling G-Watch (we call ourselves Team Democracy; we handle the democracy work of the School, including the PODER program which engages top-level policy-making on electoral reform, political party development and institutional reform), one important tone that we need to set is that we are here to have fun too. We want to create a happy community where each one derives genuine joy from what s/he does. We feel this is seriously important because only by having a joyful heart can one be serious in making a difference in a country, which has been referred to as a ‘changeless land’ for the longest time; being happy amidst the difficulty of the task at hand is part of doing our best and being excellent. 

So for six days, let’s learn together as a community having fun in seriously doing our best to learn so we can make a difference for our people and our country.