Basic Education Inputs Program (PH0058)
Action Plan: Philippines Action Plan 2019-2022
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Department of Education
Support Institution(s): ● DepEd central office units and regional, division, district offices and schools ● Department of Budget and Management ● Department of Public Works and Highways (for school building program) ● Department of Health ● Department of Social Welfare and Development ● Local Government Units ● Civil Service Commission ● Commission on Audit ● The Bureau of Treasury ● DICT ● PH-OGP ● Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-NET Philippines) ● Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific ● Social Watch ● Tribal Communities Association of the Philippines (TRICAP) ● National Parents Teachers Association Philippines (NPTA)
Policy AreasCapacity Building, Education, Gender, Inclusion, People with Disabilities, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Sustainable Development Goals, Youth
What is the problem the commitment will address?
As of date, there are about 9,225 LMSs (inventory as of September 1, 2019) nationwide with the following characteristics: (Source: DepEd Memorandum No.059, s. 2019).
a. Having less than four (4) classrooms;
b. With makeshift or non-standard rooms;
c. Absence of electricity;
d. Have not been allocated funds for repairs or new construction projects in the last four (4) years;
e. With travel distance of more than one (1) hour from town center, or with difficulty of terrain;
f. Having multi-grade classes/rooms;
g. With less than five (5) teachers;
h. Having a student population of less than one hundred (100) learners; and
i. With more than 75% Indigenous People (IP) learners.
Weak monitoring of investments and lack of timely and accurate data are some of the challenges in Last Mile Schools. There is difficulty in reaching the LMSs to obtain the needed information and data for delivering the targeted basic education services considering these LMSs are often in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) or communities, with little access to communication and poor infrastructure. Basic education inputs and service delivery flowing in and out of these areas, primarily for the learners, are disconnected.
What is the commitment?
The Department of Education (DepEd) commits to adopt a participatory monitoring and evaluation platform, through the participation of community stakeholders and civil society organizations (CSOs) to complement the work of DepEd in ensuring the needs and gaps in delivering basic education inputs are better addressed.
This will involve:
1. Providing an adaptable monitoring and evaluation system to secure the stakeholders feedback on schools and learners conditions in terms of adequacy for basic education inputs such as, but not limited to classrooms, standard school furniture, teaching and learning materials, and additional teachers and training of existing teachers. DepEd Memorandum No. 059, s. 2019 defines the initial list of interventions to meet the needs of LMSs.
2. Introducing a clear policy for proactive response to identified needs to allow publicly verified information to override bureaucratic procedures in allocation and funding of identified basic education inputs or needs.
3. Enabling program implementers, decision makers, budget officers and planners at various levels of DepEd governance (Central Office, Regional Offices, Division Offices and Schools), to learn which strategies work and what needs to be improved based on publicly verified data, in collaboration with civil society organizations and community stakeholders, so that resources can be better targeted towards LMSs beneficiaries who need most the resources and eventually result to quality education.
The adoption of participatory monitoring and evaluation platform will be piloted in, at most 50% of the physical target based on approved budget for the year for the Last Mile School Program (LMSP). DepEd shall identify said LMSs for pilot implementation based on defined criteria on prioritization while the CSOs shall focus on monitoring and evaluation of LMS Program. (Source: Education Facilities Division as of August 1, 2019).
The Regional Offices, Division Offices and Schools concerned will be involved together with the following DepEd offices at the Central: Education Facilities Division-Administrative Service (AS-EFD), Planning Service, Budget Division-Finance, and Information, Communication and Technology Service (ICTS).
Other Bureaus and Services in the Department of Education will be called upon to provide the needed interventions and support to realize delivery of basic education inputs and services.
The commitment responds to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly “SDG 4.a on school environment: build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.” Specifically, it fulfills “indicator 4.a.1, [which] examines the proportion of schools with access to: (a) electricity; (b) the internet for pedagogical purposes; (c) computers for pedagogical purposes; (d) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (e) basic drinking water; (f) single-sex basic sanitation facilities; and (g) basic handwashing facilities (in line with SDG 6 on water, sanitation and hygiene).”
DepEd’s commitment is directly aligned with the school-based management system, specifically with two of its four pillar principles. One-principle of accountability for performance and results is directly actualized by the monitoring mechanism that will be an inherent feature of LMS implementation. This monitoring mechanism will strengthen existing school management mechanisms that promote transparency and accountability.
The process of LMS implementation will also involve mobilizing stakeholders and their resources which is a direct application of the 2nd principle of convergence to harness resources for education. Given the location of the communities to be responded to, convergence of resources will also be an inherent feature of LMSP implementation.
The Local School Board (LSB) can be requested to provide support in the mobilization of local organizations (e.g., the Sangguniang Kabataan, community organizations) as volunteers in the implementation of the Last Mile Schools Program.
Further, the DepEd commits to “continue cooperation with the private sector and communities, as well as bilateral and multilateral institution towards the fulfillment of our vision and agenda.” (Sec. Leonor Magtolis Briones Ten Point Agenda 2016-2022)
See Action Plan for milestone activities
IRM Midterm Status Summary
2. Participatory Monitoring of Last Mile Schools
"The Department of Education (DepEd) commits to adopt a participatory monitoring and evaluation platform, through the participation of community stakeholders and civil society organizations (CSOs) to complement the work of DepEd in ensuring the needs and gaps in delivering basic education inputs are better addressed."
"The commitment contributes to solve the problem by providing an open participatory platform for public sharing of education inputs information, and mobilization of civil society or community volunteers in the monitoring process, which will serve as basis for identifying gaps in resources and educational inputs in schools. It facilitates collaborative action to resolve gaps and unmet needs.
More importantly, this commitment to participatory mechanism strengthens the work of DepEd’s Planning Service, Budget Division, ICTS, AS-EFD, Regional Offices, Division Offices and Schools, among others by strengthening the ability to monitor and account for investments made in terms of whether they reached the rightful recipient public schools, matched the actual needs on the ground, and served the intended learning outcomes.
Whenever applicable, DepEd may enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with appropriate government agency in the implementation of LMSP. Likewise, the Local Government Units (LGUs) concerned will also be engaged as necessary.
The use of participatory platforms democratizes access to information on school needs and department programs, which removes any impression of abuse of discretion in decision making in favor of needy schools. If public calls for assistance are backed by clear and verified information, brave implementers can proactively respond to schools' needs despite possible non-inclusion in current programs."
- Issuance of DepEd Order on adoption of participatory monitoring and evaluation platform on adequate of basic education inputs to identify “Last Mile Schools” for DepEd as an OGP commitment.
- Social preparation, mobilization, and capacity-building/training for the rollout of the Participatory Monitoring Platform.
- Online publication of basic education inputs data: SY 2019-2020; SY 2020-202.
- Respond to service gaps identified in 50% of the physical target based on approved budget.
- Conduct of LMS Partners Forum.
- Ensure representation of relevant sectors in OGP commitment activities.
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, along with the updated version submitted in the revised action plan, please see the Philippine action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/philippines-action-plan-2019-2022/.
This commitment adopts participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E)in delivering basic education resources to Last Mile Schools (LMS) identified by the Department of Education (DepEd). Through a technology platform, community stakeholders and CSOs will be able to secure feedback on the delivery of services and the LMS program. Education service providers will use information from stakeholder input and feedback to proactively respond to the demands and needs of service recipients.
The LMS is a new program under President Duterte’s administration that seeks to address the needs of learners, teachers, and schools in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs). Regular DepEd budgeting and programming does not account for the circumstances of GIDA schools, and puts them at a greater disadvantage as resources are allocated mainly on a per capita student basis instead of on specific needs for desired learning outcomes.  While LMS is a new program title, targeted intervention for under-resourced schools is not new in the Philippines. Likewise, the DepEd uses participatory M&E in programs like Check-My-School.  Therefore, this commitment offers a new pairing of participatory M&E with a focus on Last Mile Schools to promote improved education service delivery.
LMS schools have less than five teachers, less than four classrooms, and around 100 learners.  They usually do not have electricity, have not been allocated funds for repairs or construction projects in the last four years, require long distance in difficult terrain, have multi-grade classes, and often have indigenous people as more than 75% of the learners. Secretary of Education Leonor Briones sought to focus budget allocation and nongovernment partnerships on these schools by providing a specific line item for LMS through DepEd Memorandum Order No. 59 (“Prioritizing the Development of the Last Mile Schools in 2020–2021: Reaching Out and Closing the Gap”) in May 2019. The memorandum states the DepEd will i) provide solar panels to schools without electricity; ii) deliver DepEd computerization packages; and iii) connect schools to the DepEd network and internet. 
Under this commitment, participatory M&E of the LMS program will complement the Education Programs Delivery Unit (EPDU). The monitoring will use a blended approach of both participatory data gathering and on- and offline submissions. DepEd and CSO partners will work together to develop this monitoring, which DepEd then aims to institutionalize within the agency's standard procedures.  Through a mobile application developed specifically for LMS monitoring, CSOs and local communities will be able to monitor and report on education resources and whether they have been implemented as planned and allocated for in the most disadvantaged schools and communities. 
This M&E will ensure that specific DepEd budget line items are executed and disbursed according to physical and financial targets for the year. Having tagged specific schools as part of the LMS program, the DepEd can exact accountability from units or agencies responsible for education resources (e.g., school buildings, furniture, and sanitation facilities), which has been absent from the regular programming and delivery of services for schools. Tagging and focusing on LMS also allows the DepEd to mobilize support from CSOs to fill unmet needs and gaps that affect learning.  Resource planning is often based on two-year-old data. Therefore, CSOs can provide more real-time information. 
This commitment is relevant to OGP values in terms of increasing access to information through the publication of basic education data, mobilizing civic participation through the participatory monitoring platform, and enhancing public accountability through the aim of responding to gaps in education service delivery identified through citizen feedback.
This commitment has a moderate potential impact for participatory monitoring of education services. Milestones outline a highly participatory approach that include CSOs in both the design and implementation of monitoring processes. Importantly, DepEd has signaled that this commitment aims to institutionalize participatory monitoring rather than engage CSOs in a one-time project. Additionally, the commitment's focus on LMS resulted in a greater budget allocation to address gaps identified through public monitoring.  However, a lack of internet and phone connectivity in rural and marginalized communities presents a challenge to implementation.  As of 2019, only 43% of the population in the Philippines had internet access.  A 2019 report found that 70% of barangays do not have access to fiber-optic cables and 64% lack cell towers. Therefore, DepEd's application of a blended monitoring approach that permits both on- and offline data submission will be central to this commitment's potential impact.
Despite this challenge, the commitment takes important incremental steps toward improved service delivery for Last Mile Schools. The commitment will address a policy gap and clearly identify a service delivery monitoring mechanism. Agency sponsor Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla also recognizes that institutionalization might be a challenge to achieve, but trusts that a bottom-up approach, from school-level experience, will help facilitate the development and issuance of relevant policies for participatory M&E.  CSO representative Redempto Parafina notes that the DepEd has a rich history of working with CSOs. However, collaboration is generally confined to a specific project rather than institutionalized. 
The DepEd and CSOs’ positive relationship and previous collaborative experience bring promise to this commitment.  Designing the monitoring platform to account for weak internet and mobile connectivity in rural areas would significantly strengthen this commitment.
Besides connectivity, the two main challenges to successful implementation are sufficient financial resources and institutionalizing the commitment beyond a one-off program. The formalization of this commitment through a memorandum order will aid in making the program sustainable. To advance institutionalization, implementers should prioritize orienting DepEd’s processes and employees to normalize ongoing engagement with CSO partners. Positively, in this vein, this commitment calls for mapping community needs versus the presence of CSO partners.  Implementors should also seek buy-in from across all relevant DepEd Units. Funding may also present an obstacle to implementation. Civil society reported that the government reduced the education budget for monitoring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, funding was not provided for training CSO monitors.  Financial assistance for CSOs’ monitoring efforts would increase the likelihood of successful implementation. DepEd states that it deemed it more appropriate to not provide direct funding to CSO partners in order to maintain their objectivity and independence during the monitoring process. 
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 2. Participatory Monitoring of Last Mile Schools
Does it have an open government lens?
Potential for results: Moderate
● Completion: Limited
● Did it open government? No early results to report yet
Of more than 9,000 Last Mile Schools (disadvantaged schools identified by the Department of Education [DepEd]), this commitment targeted 44 as pilot sites for local CSO monitoring of education service delivery. This monitoring, however, did not take place, with the draft of the necessary departmental order still under review as of October 2022. The DepEd and the CSO Education Cluster led by E-Net Philippines made initial progress on two of the commitment’s milestones, signing an agreement and beginning efforts to close the schools’ physical needs gap.  However, as of June 2022, only 77 of the intended 165 classrooms (54%) had been built in 24 schools, and there was no internal tracking of ICT package delivery, with slow contracting of logistics providers. Overall, the program experienced administrative delays, breakdown in coordination between the DepEd and CSO partners, and reduction of the Last Mile Schools Program’s earmarked budget from PhP 6 billion to 1 billion with the onset of the pandemic . In recent developments, there were indications of strengthening sustainability of the program: Congress allocated a budget for the program in 2022, and members of the CSO Education Cluster reported the intention to continue monitoring education service delivery and utilization of the DepEd Special Education Fund.