The Arrupe Office of Social Formation (formerly the Social Involvement Coordinating Office [SICO]), through Mr. Noriel Rogon and Ms. Eufemia Faller, coordinators of the Student Servant Leadership Program (SSLP) and Service Learning Program (SLP), respectively, attended the training workshop of Checkmyschool (CMS) in Cagayan de Oro City on 5th-7th September 2013.

     It was the first time that CMS conducted the training involving participants coming from all over Mindanao: Local government units (LGUs) from Dipolog and Kalilangan, Bukidnon; from the Department of the Interior and Local Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); the Ateneo de Davao University, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University and the Mindanao State University (MSU) representing the academe; the Department of Education (DepEd) from the provinces of ARMM, Bukidnon and Cotabato, as well as from Dipolog City and El Salvador in Cagayan de Oro City; and civil society organizations (CSOs) and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) from the provinces of Bukidnon and North Cotabato, and the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog.

       The CMS is a monitoring initiative involving the participation of different stakeholders, both in government and in civil society, with the objective of improving the delivery of services in public education through the promotion of social accountability and transparency in and among schools. It is a project of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), bringing together various stakeholders who are committed to monitor the delivery of school services, find solutions to school issues, and engage in dialogue and collaborative decision-making on how to better improve education services among the different public schools, especially in basic education.

       The Arrupe’s participation in the training workshop is important because the project will deploy volunteers who, in coordination with DepEd, will do the actual monitoring of schools. These volunteers will then relay their observation and evaluation based on what they have seen during the actual monitoring to the DepEd so that solutions and necessary interventions can be made. As a social accountability program, the CMS uses a blended approach of digital media technology and community mobilization. It, therefore, uses websites, social media and mobile technology in the process of conducting school monitoring and feedbacking. More importantly, it relies on partnership building among different stakeholders such as the local school board, the academe, the private sector, and government agencies.

       This partnership with CMS provides a far wider and expansive formative avenue for Arrupe volunteers to engage in community service. The CMS project becomes an important receptacle for Arrupe volunteers when they are engaged in promoting transparency and accountability in public service which is one of the operating principles of good governance adapted by the office from the five (5) advocacy agenda of the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA). The CMS initiative is similar to the Bantay Lansangan project, also engaged in by the Arrupe Office through its corps of student volunteers, in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other stakeholders. In previous years, Arrupe volunteers were also engaged in textbook count, medicine check and other similar transparency initiatives in coordination with other institutions.

       Training of the pool of Arrupe volunteers who will be engaged in school monitoring will commence as soon as the necessary preparations are made between the CMS and the local participating school here in Davao City.  The Arrupe then plans to implement this project in the cycle of three (3) years. (By M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications & Advocacy)