Scaling Textbook Count, Youth-Led Style

Scaling Textbook Count, Youth-Led Style

Remarks in the Launching of Multiply-Ed

By: Joy Aceron

Pasig | 7 February 2022


When we were conceptualizing Multiply-Ed, we thought it was important to again engage the agenda of accountability and reform in education governance. As a product of public education myself, I know how valuable it is for children and the youth to have quality and accessible public education. As Jeza Rodriguez reminded us, 27 million children and youth are vulnerable in ending up being uneducated and marginalized. Looking into this agenda becomes even more critical because of how COVID-19 turned our world upside down, leading to the disruption of learning and life as we know it.

Knowing of a social accountability in education that worked, we thought of scaling Textbook Count. It was a vertically-integrated or multi-level accountability initiative that was able to make textbook delivery efficient and effective through broad participation of civil society and citizens in close collaboration with champions and allies in government. The program’s engagement at all levels of decision-making with bottom-up monitoring of ordinary citizens enabled the kind of oversight needed to stop corruption and ensure good performance. In cooperation with Accountability Research Center, G-Watch documented and learned about and from Textbook Count to inform Multiply-Ed's design. Multiply-Ed's donor-partner, Global Partnership for Education - Education Out Loud (GPE-EOL), is also informed of vertical integration approach, affirming it as its approach to civil society monitoring and advocacy.

To scale Textbook Count, we knew it was important that the youth and students, who are the immediate stakeholders of education, would be front and center of the initiative, in collaboration with other sectors. More than the energy and passion of the youth, the drastically changing context of today - given the pandemic, technological advancement and decay, environmental changes and societal transformation - is theirs to conquer. Today’s world is a youth’s world.

So far, this launching has shown what such youth-led approach could deliver. And there will be more to come…


On behalf of the X-Ed Team, I would like to thank those who showed solidarity to us today as we launched Multiply-Ed...

…Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio for sharing the openness and “galak” [joy] of the Department of Education in engaging “this meaningful effort” to help the Education Department and for recognizing the role of the youth in education governance.

…Vice President Leni Robredo for sharing her high hopes “sa isang mas patas at makatarungang lipunan” with the help of all in making education more resilient especially during this pandemic.

…Senator Risa Hontiveros for recognizing the importance of civil society monitoring to improve education quality given the state “education crisis,” highlighting the need to extend greater assistance to teachers who are also frontliners during this pandemic.

…Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) Chairperson Ken Paolo Gilo for sharing the struggle and pain of students in coping up with the challenges of online learning and for sharing the efforts of SCAP to make duty-bearers listen, reminding us of our conviction to truly make a difference in learning continuity implementation for the sake of the struggling students when we were just starting X-Ed.

…Students’ Rights and Welfare Convenor Mark Diaz for sharing the gaps they observed in learning continuity implementation that students have matched with their continuing passion and conviction to make significant reforms happen through empowerment and participation of education governance.

…Bukluran UP System Chairperson Dana Mica Torregosa for walking us through the history of learning and curriculum reforms in Philippine education and the persisting gaps in education service delivery that students can help address.

…Model SK Representative Kristine Cariman for sharing how the mandate of Sangguniang Kabataan (SKs) to assist youth and students has become even harder given the increasing challenges in education and learning due to the pandemic.

…Sanjay Rana of Education Out Loud of the Global Partnership of Education (GPE) for expressing the continued support of GPE and underscoring the global challenge of mobilizing education stakeholders to address the “continuing onslaught of COVID-19” on education and highlighting the appropriateness of a youth-led approach to ensure youth and students’ ownership of the agenda.

…and the hundreds of youth and students and other allied CSOs who joined online and will participate in the coming workshops and events.


Finally, I also would like to congratulate the whole X-Ed Team for:

…one, taking on this challenge of trying to navigate the complexity of education reform through youth-led multi-level accountability at the time of the pandemic;

…two, for getting a head start at the huge work ahead of completing, perhaps, the fastest ground civil society monitoring of a government program ever and the launching of the program, complete with its own identity and sharp with its vision and direction;

…and three, for being champions of education.


There are many sectors that need help, but we are contributing our time and effort in education because we know it is vital now and in the future. Education needs all our attention. Education must be a priority of all.

Obviously, this is just the beginning. There is a huge work ahead. But if the past efforts of the team were of any indication, the road ahead will surely be vibrant, productive and full of lessons on accountability and citizen empowerment towards a resilient learning environment in public education system.