Written By: Charrie Joy V. Masculino
Guimaras – “Nasaan ang Transparency Board n’yo? (Where’s your Transparency Board?”), our volunteers would ask during school visits.
A school’s Transparency Board contains information about its incomes, budgets, and expenditures. It must be found in a conspicuous place in the school for the public to see. In 2013, the Department of Education issued instructions to set it up in all public schools.
This was one of the concerns that we tried to address back in 2014 when we participated in the fourth cycle of CheckMySchool. We encountered it in the course of our test-run of the new process of CheckMySchool monitoring. Since the Transparency Board contains the school’s finances, it was also the interest of many parents and teachers. Questions on where school funds are used always crop up in PTA meetings and other community conversations.
In 2014, around one year into the implementation of DepEd’s directive on the Transparency Board, I could say that around one-fifth of the 90 schools we covered in Guimaras had not set it up. So it was one of the issues our group observed and raised to the Division Office. Then Schools Division Superintendent de Gracia assured us that he would remind the principals about this requirement. We also reported that there were schools that put up their Transparency Board, but no information was posted on it. It was just a board!
A new Schools Divisions Superintendent, Ma’am Luz delos Reyes, assumed office in 2015 after SDS de Gracia was promoted to Assistant Regional Director’s position. Once again, we raised the issue about the Transparency Board, which she gladly and aggressively addressed.
Ma’am Luz has been quite strict about Transparency Board. According to the principals, she wanted it to be prominently displayed and accessible to the parents and all people in the community. When she visits schools, she would look for it and check the posting of liquidation reports and other financial reports.
One the part of CheckMySchool, particularly the fifth and sixth cycles, the Transparency Board is valuable for the volunteers to access various school data for our review and assessment of issues. Our constant queries during CMS visits somehow pressured school officials to take their Transparency Board seriously.
From 80% compliance back in 2014, Guimaras now marks 100% compliance to the Transparency Board requirement. All 114 schools in the Division of Guimaras have it, with the financial reports, project proposals, PTA reports, pictures of school activities, and the calendar of activities. There are schools that display their School Report Cards (SRCs) in their Transparency Boards. SRC is a brochure containing the school profile, performance indicators and status of projects.
I would like to believe that we have significantly contributed to that outcome. It may just be a Board, but we consider it a significant improvement to finally see Transparency Boards in schools. There are times when some schools– around 5%– would still forget to update them, so we remind them about it. We understand that school officials have other work to do and we just hold on to their promise to update their Transparency Boards.