CYAN, SCAP, Bukluran UP System and G-Watch conduct an education governance forum

The Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking (CYAN), Government Watch (G-Watch), the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), and Bukluran UP System held a forum on education governance on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Attended by more than 800 online participants from all over the country, the forum highlighted the importance of strengthening transparency, participation and accountability (TPA) in education governance especially as the country adapts to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entitled  ‘E-skwela: Education Governance During the Pandemic,’ two Department of Education (DepEd) officials were key resource persons of the event. Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio (Curriculum and Instructions) presented DepEd’s framework and plans for ‘learning continuity’ in the time of COVID-19. Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan, meanwhile, shared his insights on opportunities and entry points for youth participation in education governance today.

Two youth leaders, Veronica Escarez of CYAN and Mark Diaz of SCAP, presented the ‘Emerging Challenges in Learning Continuity,’ based on the preliminary research done by CYAN. Rafaela David of CYAN and Joy Aceron of Government Watch (G-Watch) opened the forum that was closed by CYAN’s Marlon Cornelio.

The forum is part of the new initiative called MultiplY-Ed or Youth-led, Multi-sectoral and Multi-level Approach to Monitoring Education in the Time of COVID19, that hopes to secure transparency, accountability, and participation in education governance, and employ vertical integration by ensuring that social accountability mechanisms are put in place at various levels in the policy and decision-making processes (across national, regional, local/school levels).

The full version of Aceron’s Opening Remarks is posted below.



E-skwela: Education Governance During the Pandemic

Opening Remarks

Joy Aceron, G-Watch


Magandang hapon sa lahat.

Usec. Nepo Malaluan, Usec. Diosdado San Antonio. Sanjay Rana. Magandang hapon. Thank you for joining us.

On behalf of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Bukluran UP System, Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking and G-Watch, welcome to all of you and thank you all for attending this event and spending your afternoon with us.

Our agenda today is most important. Judging by the attendance, many of us recognize this. If we hear education governance, we can’t help but think of how critical and huge is this agenda.

The education department has the biggest bureaucracy in the government, with the biggest budget and the widest constituency who are affected greatly by whether education governance delivers or not. And now this huge agenda confronts a global pandemic like no other.

I am sure there are a lot of groups who have taken up the agenda of education governance. Surely, the government is doing something about it - perhaps needing more prioritization from the political leadership.

There are also a lot of other groups engaging education governance. What makes this initiative we call MultiplY-Ed different is how it places youth and students front and center of the endeavor.

Youth leadership is not new in the country. But we are serious about aiming to undertake an initiative that is truly youth-led. I qualify it as ‘truly’ because we have seen a lot of efforts on youth participation that are hollow, that treats the youth involvement as mere symbolic or even renders youth participation tokenistic, devoid of countervailing power.

In MultiplY-Ed, we are serious in understanding and realizing a truly youth-led initiative. This is not as straightforward as one would think. It requires a lot of balancing and nuancing. Our recent publication in G-Watch starts to discourse the idea of what ‘youth-led’ means (see

In Multiply-Ed, the youth takes up an agenda that is not solely a youth agenda or a youth concern. They take up an agenda that is mainstream and concerns the general public.

In this specific initiative, the agenda is how to enhance the responsiveness and accountability of education governance during the pandemic. It is a difficult agenda to tackle that there are many gaps that can still be filled up.

What exactly can we do to improve education governance during the pandemic? What strategies should we employ to strengthen and reform education governance? Which part of the education governance needs more attention? Which part of senior high school program should be the focus? These are some of the questions that in the past months the youth leaders of Multiply-Ed had to grapple with.

To do so, they learned and applied difficult lessons of theory of change, program management, adaptive learning, strategic approaches to accountability - all the things that will make civil society initiative better and more effective.

And in the past months that we have worked on our initiative’s design that is by and for the youth, three key ideas emerge defining what MultiplY-Ed is about and what we are trying to kick off with this event:

  • Collaboration
  • Accountability; and
  • Learning

Collaboration – MultiplY-Ed aims to involve all key sectors and stakeholders meaningfully. Tapping their strengths and where and how that strengths can matter most.

For the youth, numbers are their strengths being present in all schools. Youth strength is their unique voice and perspectives. 

The question is where can such strength be put to best use given the prevailing situation of education governance.

Building information and evidence about governmental performance is one of the weakest aspects of our governance. Accountability remains a big challenge which requires all our attention. The number and voice of youth and students can tell us what is really happening on the ground, what is the real score and how that information matter to policy processes from the bottom up.

One of the initiatives youth leaders in MultiplY-Ed have learned was the G-Watch Textbook Count, which was implemented from 2002-2007. It is perhaps the only social accountability initiative that achieved almost 100% oversight - covering almost all schools in the country. Textbook Count mobilized and enabled the students to monitor textbook delivery that was at that time plagued by corruption.

A huge part of the Textbook Count initiative is its consolidation and coordination. For the youth to make a difference in accountability, their effort will have to be consolidated, systematized and organized in order for them to build a solid evidence base that can inform policy. It cannot be scattered without control and direction.

MultiplY-Ed youth organizations are composed of youth leaders present in different parts of the country and who have been trained to handle the complexity of reform work, and will be further trained and enabled to take on systematic and strategic accountability work.

Finally, learning. There is a lot about taking up education governance in the pandemic through youth-led social accountability that needs to be threshed out and understood. What worked and did not work. How is it best contextualized and nuanced?

Today’s event is an important part of laying the groundwork for the MultiplY-Ed initiative as we try to start the ball rolling in learning from each other, understanding the situation of education governance during the COVID-19 pandemic and setting common grounds for our collaboration in doing accountability.

We are fortunate to have leaders from DepEd. I am sure just like me, you look forward to get to know them more, what they do and learn from them. I also hope that this will start our collaboration with them because they are crucial in enabling our youth to access information and government processes.

Hope we all make the most of this opportunity to be better at taking up the huge agenda of education governance this time of the pandemic.