Civil Society Participation In Textbook Count 3

Dondon Parafina, 12th IACC, Workshop contribution, Civil Society

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1. For the third time, G-Watch of the Ateneo School of Government served as the national coordinator for the civil society participation in the Textbook Count: National Textbook Delivery Program. With support from the Partnership for Transparency Fund, G-Watch implemented the Textbook Count 3 activities from April 2005 to June 2006.

  2. A Consortium of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) signed a Commitment of Support and Cooperation with the Department of Education to formalize the engagement. The consortium has 34 enlisted members. The Coca-Cola and KAAKBAY-CDI signed separate Memoranda of Agreement.

  3. The civil society and private sector helped in monitoring the bidding, production, delivery, and onward distribution of from the districts to elementary schools.

  4. The time spent for the bidding from the posting of advertisement (September 2004) to the release of the Notice to Proceed (July 2005) was nine months. The Notice of Award, however, had been available as of March 2005. One major cause of delay in the completion of the bidding phase was the determination of the amount of copyright fee that must be paid to the author of Math 3 textbook.

  5. The average unit price of the textbooks for Math Grade 3 was P46.64 and for Math IV High School P46.00. These prices were at least 48% lower than the average unit price of textbooks prior to the use of international competitive bidding, which was P90.00. Such lower price saved the government from an opportunity cost of P68.5 million, which was theoretically the amount of corruption.

  6. In the production stage, the CSOs joined 21 out of 25 inspections in the printing presses and warehouses. The Quality Inspection Team inspected 165,023 textbooks and lesson guides or 13% of total contracted quantity. There were 61,992 textbooks (5%) that were recommended for repair and replacement. Commonly found defects include uneven density, wrong registry, ink smudge and creases.

  7. In the delivery stage, almost 6,000 volunteers from groups, such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Namfrel, and Barug! Pilipino, were mobilized to help in the monitoring. On the average, the CSOs and community representatives signed 76% of delivery receipts, or 767,765 textbooks amounting to P47 million.

  8. In the onward distribution from districts to elementary schools, Coca-Cola reported an accomplishment of 77% for textbooks and 81% for Lesson Guides, with an equivalent value of P11.4 million and P3 million, respectively. Using the G-Watch monitoring finding in 2004, the Coca-Cola assistance helped save P2.9 million from possible wastage.

  9. The evaluation focused on various issues, such as the absence of accountability of forwarders, improving the physical quality of textbooks, finding better ways to facilitate the onward distribution from district to elementary schools, the need to promote more community-school-private sector partnership in the education sector, and ways to build on the gains of the Textbook Count.

  10. The effect studies on the participation of the youth and the private sector in the Textbook Count affirmed the value of civic engagement in governance. Various insights were shared to optimize the benefits from these unique modes of participation.

  11. The institutionalization of the Textbook Count would take place within the State and the society. A proposed Memorandum Order “Institutionalizing NGO and Private Sector Participation in the Department’s Procurement Process” is expected to set the stage for such institutionalization.

FOR THE THIRD TIME AROUND, G-Watch of the Ateneo School of Government has undertaken the national coordination for the civil society participation in the Department of Education’s (DepED) Textbook Count: National Textbook Delivery Program. With support from the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), G-Watch spearheaded the civil society sector in helping DepED ensure the delivery of the right quantity and quality of textbooks to the public schools. The activities were implemented from April 2005 to June 2006.

The civil society participation in Textbook Count 3 was formalized with the signing of a Commitment of Support and Cooperation between the DepED and the Consortium of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). Thirty-four CSOs were enlisted in the Consortium. These include anti-corruption and good governance advocacy groups, education-oriented alliances, faith-based (Christian and Muslim) organizations, and student and youth sector groups. The DepED signed separate Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI) and the Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan - Community Development Initiative (KAAKBAY-CDI) for the distribution of textbooks in hard-to-reach areas.

The CSOs and the private sector had been involved in four major activities. These were (1) bidding, (2) production, (3) delivery to high schools and districts, and (4) onward distribution from the districts to the elementary schools.

The activities started in the early stages of procurement. G-Watch tracked the progress of the procurement process from the pre-bid conference and opening of the bids to the post-qualification and awarding of contracts. After the contracts had been awarded, the CSOs joined a series of visits to the printing presses and warehouses for the pre-delivery quality inspection of textbooks.

Massive information drive was also conducted to organize and mobilize volunteers, such as the Scouts and other well-meaning citizens, for the checking of the deliveries. Targeted were 4,844 school sites for the delivery of 1,269,617 textbooks, amounting to P63,069,903.77 (including transport and delivery costs). The deliveries were set from 15 August to 21 October 2005.

Finally, the Coca-Cola truck distributors’ network and an education advocate group helped bring the textbooks to schools located in far-flung villages. Targeted were 8,401 elementary schools located in poor and hard-to-reach areas under the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) provinces. Distribution should ideally start two weeks after the last delivery to the districts.

Upon the completion of all these activities, post-delivery evaluations were conducted to look at the outcome of the program implementation. All stakeholders from the government, suppliers, civil society and community were gathered together to share their experiences and insights on the implementation of the activities.

Also, G-Watch studied the effect of the Textbook Count on the private sector, its effect on the young participants and beneficiaries, and ways to institutionalize the citizens’ participation in the DepED procurement process.

The Challenge of Textbook Count 3

Two consecutive years of successful implementation of the Textbook Count created even higher expectations. Questions and apprehensions on how it could be sustained and institutionalized constantly surfaced in discussions. What will happen if there is a change in the DepED leadership? Can the program continue without the support of the top leadership? On the other hand, can the civil society continuously bear the cost of its participation? Up to what point can the citizens carry on with their volunteer service to help maintain transparency and accountability in the government?

Second-generation problems also started to gain prominence: Is it enough that we check the physical quality of the textbooks? Should we also look at the content? What happened to the books after the districts received them? Did they finally get to the hands of the students? Why can’t the DepED deliver directly to the elementary schools, instead of the districts?

Thus, the value of Textbook Count 3 was premised on its capability to address these concerns that accumulated from the last two rounds. At the outset, some salient actions could be considered as immediate responses to these challenges. The aggressive “marketing” resulted in the entry of many more participating CSOs, which signaled the sustained public interest in the project. The lingering worry over textbooks that remained in the districts’ storage brought to life another innovative idea, where a softdrink distributor’s vehicle, surprisingly a rather ordinary sight even in far-away villages, was given an extraordinary role.

It is worth noting that the DepED initiative to tap the assistance of a private company for the textbook distribution was sounded off as a concrete response to a finding from another PTF-supported G-Watch monitoring, which was conducted in 2004. The monitoring revealed that 21% of the textbooks delivered to the poor districts did not reach the elementary schools because of the difficulty and assumed lack of funds to transport the books.

By and large, these challenges appeared to work well for the program and for all stakeholders, especially DepED. They allowed the Textbook Count to constantly reinvent itself and slowly find its way towards the goal of sustainability.

Organizing the Civil Society

Joining the Textbook Count on its third year had been significantly meaningful to the civil society. It proved the Department’s consistent commitment to the partnership and cooperation between the government and its citizens, which is what the Textbook Count is essentially all about. No wonder, such commitment eventually made the civil society participation its most distinctive component; and the Textbook Count program itself a model for public-private engagement for transparency, accountability, anti-corruption and good governance.

This opportunity, however, was at the same time a big responsibility considering the load and extent of work it required. It was a big task that could neither be accomplished by a few small civil society groups nor by haphazard preparations. It was necessary to get as many CSO forces as possible and to lay down simple but effective plans.

On 29 April 2005, the Consortium of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) participating in the Textbook Count met to regroup and reorganize. Previous member-organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Namfrel, together with newly invited groups from the student sector and Muslim community, were in attendance. In the meeting, the opportunities and challenges of the third round of Textbook Count were presented. New commitments were then given as a response. See Annex 1 for complete list of participating CSOs and their individual commitments.

The CSO regrouping reaffirmed the role of G-Watch as the overall coordinator for the CSO participation in the Textbook Count. As the overall coordinator, G-Watch served as the bridge between the CSOs and the DepED. It received all the necessary documents and information from DepED and transmitted them to member CSOs. It likewise received reports and comments from CSOs and sent them to DepED for action.

The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, on the other hand, accepted the responsibility of taking the lead in the mobilization of volunteers. They called up their Councils in concerned regions for the mobilization of Scouts in the schools that would receive the textbook deliveries. There were 49 Boy Scouts Councils and another 49 Girl Scouts Councils nationwide that served as local coordinators (see Annex 2 for the Provincial Assignments). From the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, 4,974 adult volunteer monitors were enlisted.

The NAMFREL group also committed to help in all the Textbook Count activities, including the mobilization of more local volunteers. From its 52 chapters that participated in this year’s Textbook Count, NAMFREL has mobilized 819 individual volunteer monitors. Barug! Pilipino, a church-based anti-corruption CSO in Cebu City, was also able to organize a group of 35 college students to do monitoring.

Various commitments also came from more CSO members, such as helping prepare the materials for the volunteers, sending representatives to the textbook inspections, and popularizing the project.

In the third run, the Consortium of CSO followed the same mode of working relationship with DepED. Horizontal or parallel coordination points were designated to avoid a centralized handling of issues and concerns. It likewise almost mirrored the DepED’s bureaucratic hierarchy. Thus, G-Watch as the CSO’s overall coordinator partnered with the Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS), which is the unit in DepED directly handling all matters concerning Textbook Count (except for the bidding, which is handled by the Procurement Service). At the middle level, the Councils dealt with the Division Offices. Finally, the community- or school-based volunteer monitors coordinated with the school authorities, particularly the Supply Officer or Property Custodian.

Coordination Scheme between DepED and the Consortium of CSOs

DepEd National Coordinator

CSO National Coordinator



 

CSOs monitoring bidding

CSOs helping in warehouse inspection

CSO lead in the mobilization of volunteers




 

Provincial Coordinator

Division Supply Office



 

HS & District Monitors

HS & District Offices

 

 


Topping these preparations and commitment-pledging, a launching ceremony was held on 4 August 2005 to seal the partnership between the Consortium of CSOs and the DepED. The event witnessed the signing of the Commitment of Support and Cooperation between the two sectors, and the signing of the Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) of DepED with the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. and the KAAKBAY CDI.

Left: Former Education Usec. Juan Miguel Luz with members of the Consortium of CSOs. Upper right: Ateneo VP Dr. Angeles, Usec .Luz and Coca-Cola President Mr. Huang. Lower right: Alternative music artist Noel Cabangon sings the theme song of Textbook Count.

Part of the launching event was the release of the Textbook Count print advertisements in three national newspapers, Philippine Daily Inquirer (3 August), Philippine Star (4 August) and the Business World (5 August).

Left: Textbook Count 3 ad says, “No matter where, no matter how, textbook deliveries can go far.” Right: textbook allocation and schedule per division.

Aside from popularizing the project, the advertisements also called on the citizens to become textbook volunteer monitors. The ads provided the contact numbers of G-Watch and IMCS. Volunteers who came forward in response to the ad were referred to the coordinating Councils or directly to the districts and high schools near the place of their residence. Among those who got involved through the ad were the Rotary Club of Parañaque and a group connected to the Representative of Camarines Sur.

Bidding: G-Watch as Third-Party Observer

With the passage of the new Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA) in 2003, G-Watch started receiving invitation from DepED Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Secretariat to observe the conduct of the bidding, including the pre-bid conference, post-qualification and awarding of contracts. This role became even more important with the introduction of the Textbook Count.

For Textbook Count 3, G-Watch again took on the task of observing the early stages of the procurement of textbooks, namely pre-bid conference, bid opening, post-qualification and content evaluation, pre-award deliberations, and awarding of contract. Originally, three sets of procurement were lined up for Textbook Count 3. These were (1) Textbooks on Math for Elementary Grade 3, Math for 4th Year High Schools and Lesson Guides for Elementary Grades 1-6, (2) Textbooks on Makabayan and Teacher’s Manuals, and (3) Supplementary Reading Materials (lodged with an Inter-Agency BAC headed by the Department of Budget and Management).

The bidding for the Supplementary Reading Materials started late and was dropped from the list of target items for the Textbook Count 3. On the other hand, the bidding for the Makabayan Textbooks and Teacher’s Manuals failed because none of the books passed the content evaluation.

Only the Math 3 and Math IV textbooks had successful bids. The contracts for the procurements covered under the Textbook Count 3 were awarded to the following suppliers:


Supplier

Scope of Contract

Contract Amount

Grand C

Zone 1: Math 3, Math IV; Zone 3: Math 3

30,398,790.84

Book Media

Zones 2 & 4: Math 3 and Math IV

56,553,350.56

JTW

Zones 1-4: Lesson Guides 1-6; Zone 3: Math IV

21,499,271.91

The averaged unit prices of the textbooks were as follows:


Math Grade 3

Math IV HS

Lesson Guide

Gr. 1

Gr. 2

Gr. 3

Gr. 4

Gr. 5

Gr. 6

46.64

46.00

80.36

85.00

105.00

88.29

92.64

103.57

Compared to the P90.00 averaged unit price of textbooks prior to the use of international competitive bidding and the new GPRA, the current unit prices of the Math 3 and Math IV textbooks were around 48% lower. Such lower prices saved the government from an opportunity cost of P68.5 million, the amount theoretically saved from corruption. (There was no comparison available for Lesson Guides because it was the first batch of procurement of its kind.)

Printing and Delivery of Math 3 and Math IV Textbooks and Lesson Guides Grade 1-6

Fund Source: Loan from the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development

  • 9 & 16 September 2004: Advertisement

  • 20 September 2004: Bid Bulletin 1

  • 15 October 2005: Pre-Bid Conference

  • 22 October 2004: Bid Bulletin 2

  • 12 November 2004: Submission and Opening of Bids

  • 21 December 2004: Resolution to Award

  • 28 January 2005: BAC agreed in principle to 8% royalty fee

  • 2, 23 & 28 March 2005: Release of Notices of Award

  • 5 May 2005: BAC renegotiated royalty fee from 8% to 6.25%

  • 9 May 2005: Publisher JTW stated offer of 8%; BAC members recommended to the Secretary not to award the contract

  • 4 July 2005: Release of Notice to Proceed

eanwhile, it took nine months to finish the procurement process from advertisement (September 2004) to the release of the Notice to Proceed (July 2005). The delay in the processing of the Notice to Proceed was due to intervening issues, such as the recommended amendments of the World Bank and the disagreement among the BAC members on how much copyright fee would be paid to the author of Math 3 textbooks. If not for these issues, the DepED could have completed the process in six months as the Notices of Award had already been completed by March 2005.

For further details of the procurement proceedings, see Annex 3.

At any rate, the World Bank’s own scrutiny of the bids and the deliberations that went on between and among the BAC members before awarding the contracts could not, in any way, be viewed as unnecessary. They were, in fact, indicative of a functional and healthy interaction among those concerned in the procurement. They were probably unavoidable circumstances, but from which the government must learn.

The usual controversies over irregularities and anomalies that hounded the textbook bidding were obviously not present in this procurement. The presence of the CSO observer in every step of the way showed clearly the complete transparency in the process. There was full disclosure of information, including those that involved disagreements and hard decisions that the public would likely criticize. Also, it had somehow influenced the behavior of both the agency authorities and the bidders to act accordingly.

In gist, the CSO presence lent credibility to the bidding process. Both the government and the private sector found in the CSO a reliable witness who could provide objective testimony on the outcome of the process.

Inspection of Textbooks at the

Printing Presses and Warehouses

After the contracts had been awarded to and finally accepted by the suppliers, the DepED’s Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS) prepared immediately for the monitoring of the production stage. The most important part of the preparations was the formation of the Textbook Quality Inspection Team (QIT), which consisted of representatives from the IMCS, BAC, Procurement Service, Management Office of Social Expenditure Management Proejct (SEMP), Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project (SEDIP) and Third Elementary Education Project (TEEP), and the CSOs.

The purpose of the inspections was for the early detection and rectification of defects in the textbooks. It was also aimed at guarding against the use of substandard materials and non-compliance to specifications set out in the contract. It is done in three stages of production, namely (1) printing and folding, (2) binding, trimming and checking of finished books, and (3) packing and packaging.

The coordination with the CSOs for the inspections followed the process below:

 

IMCS trains members of Inspection Team

IMCS sets schedule of inspections

IMCS calls inspectors; invites CSO through G-Watch

 

 

 

G-Watch calls CSO volunteers


CSO volunteers send reply

G-Watch sends name of CSO volunteers to IMCS

 

 


CSO volunteers join inspection

 

Inspection Team conducts inspection

Inspection Team members sign report; submit report

 

 

 

 

The inspections that were conducted were unannounced (except for follow-up inspections). Notification to the suppliers regarding the inspection was being sent on the day of the inspection itself. Using a customized yes-no template, the QIT was tasked to inspect 10% of available items in the printing press or warehouse. The findings of individual inspectors would be consolidated in one Inspection Report Form, which would contain the QIT’s official findings and recommendations. The findings and recommendations would be discussed with the supplier’s point-person, who would eventually be asked to sign the official QIT Inspection Report Form. In case of defective textbooks, another inspection would be scheduled to check compliance to the QIT’s recommendation. All the members of QIT would also sign the Inspection Report Form.

On 22 June 2006, the DepED-IMCS, in cooperation with G-Watch, held a training-seminar on Textbook Quality Inspection for all members of the Quality Inspection Team. From the CSO, 20 members received the training. The training consisted of (1) lecture on parts of books, types of textbook defects and ways to detect the defects, and the process of conducting the inspections; and (2) visit to a printing press for a test-run of the inspection. The Code of Conduct for CSO inspectors was also read and explained during the seminar. See Annex 4 for copy of training materials and CSO Inspector’s Code of Conduct.


 

 

Date

Supplier

Title

Production Stage

21 July

Grand C

Math 3

Printing and Folding

22 July

Book Media

Math 3

Printing and Folding

26 July

Grand C

Math 3

Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book

27 July

Book Media

Math IV

Printing, Folding, Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book

28 July

Grand C

Math IV

Printing and Folding

28 July

JTW

Math IV; Lesson Guides

Printing and Folding

1 August

Book Media

Math 3;


Math IV

-Binding, Trimming, and Checking of Finished Book

-Printing and Folding

2 August

Grand C

Math 3


Math IV

-Printing, Folding, Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book

-Printing and Folding

5 August

JTW

Math 3


Math IV

Lesson Guides

-Binding, Trimming, and Checking of Finished Book

-Printing and Folding

-Printing and Folding

9 August

Grand C

Math 3

Printing, Folding, Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book, Packing and Packaging

11 August

JTW

Math IV

Lesson Guides

Printing and Folding

17 August

Book Media

Math IV

Printing, Folding, Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book, Packing and Packaging

19 August

Book Media

Math 3

Math IV

Packing and Packaging

23 August

JTW

Math IV, Lesson Guides

Printing, Folding, Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book, Packing and Packaging

1 Sept

Grand C

Math IV

Printing, Folding, Binding, Trimming, Checking of Finished Book, Packing and Packaging

2 Sept

Grand C

Civil Society Participation In Textbook Count 3

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