Stories of Change

Citizen monitoring of schools: threat or eye-opener?

 May 4, 2018    

Contributed by Jonathan Mongcal



p8 Youth groups and students take their time to walk around the panels of photos during SaGIFT Aral Photo Exhibit 2017 in Limketkai Mall, CDO.


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY– Last April 29 and May 19, 2017, the first SaGIFT Aral Photo Exhibit was launched at Limketkai Mall. We exhibited photos of public school problems, which were meant to raise public awareness and challenge the leadership in government to address the concerns of the education sector.


The photos were from CheckMySchool’s (CMS) visits and data-gathering activities. Our volunteers usually take photos of issues and problems in the schools. They were attached to our report to the Department of Education (DepEd) offices, but we figured we could use it for another purpose. Hence, the SaGIFT Aral Photo Exhibit was organized.


On my part as CMS coordinator, the exhibit was an innovative way to direct the school issues and concerns to the broader public, a venue where everybody can participate.



Picture1 The first day of the photo exhibit packed with the principals and teachers exchanging pleasantries and stories.


We proposed the exhibit to the office of the Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) office for approval. The photos we planned to feature were also submitted along with the proposal. Aside from agreeing to the exhibit, the SDS also called a meeting with the concerned school heads to discuss the issues and concerns raised by CMS. She instructed them to take the time to visit the exhibit. Other department heads from the Division office also went to the event. They took their gallery walk on the first day with the teachers.


While the outcome of the first SaGIFT Aral Photo Exhibit was well-accepted by the SDS, some school heads thought otherwise. In one of my school visits this year, a high school principal aired her disagreement. She was offended by the public showing of the photos of their school facilities in dire need of repair. But rather than be discouraged, this feedback made us more motivated to assist them in finding solutions.



p13 Mila Zaballero-Abesamis from Kiwanis International, visits the photo exhibit.


In a conversation with Jimboy Eugenio, Education Program Specialist II of the Division office, he admitted that CMS monitoring came as either a threat or an eye-opener on the part of the DepEd in CDO. In any case, the CMS findings served as a reference to address the needs immediately. Mary Ann Allera, Chief Education Supervisor, also cited CMS as a contributing factor in the improvements of monitored schools.


On June 29-30, 2018, CMS Cagayan de Oro will be launching its second photo exhibit. It will be open to the public at Bonifacio Park, Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro City. Just as last year, we expect this year’s exhibit to bring a unique experience to the visitors. As an annual event, it should not only raise awareness but also capture significant stories of education issues that need to told.



If there’s any issue, problem or anything that you think needs improvement in your school, let us know if CMS can help. Go to

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