By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To enhance responsiveness in sending status reports, in consolidating and processing these reports, and in addressing reported issues and concerns, the Department of Education (DepEd) has launched an election monitoring app and enjoined its personnel to use it for “coordinated” information and help desk system.
Undersecretary and DepEd Election Task Force Chair Alain Del Pascua, in a statement, said that the election monitoring app was developed for the use of its teachers and other personnel who will render poll duties during the 2019 midterm elections on May 13. It aims to make “reporting simpler, easier, quicker and more efficient.”
Pascua said that DepEd has “always taken its responsibility of ensuring the efficient and successful conduct of every election in the country in closed coordination and cooperation” with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and other agencies and organizations.
“DepEd also recognizes the importance of the role that public school teachers play in this exercise of democracy, and is committed to upholding their safety and well-being,” Pascua said. In an effort to enhance responsiveness in sending, consolidating and processing election-related issues and concerns, DepEd has launched an DepEd Election Monitoring App.
“In previous years DepEd has had to wade through massive and scattered data from all forms of media and must sort through all of them properly before being able to respond,” Pascua said. “Now, through this simple and ingenious use of Digital Technology, we are providing a more efficient way of gathering, consolidating, centralizing, and managing all this information into a format that is easily understood and actionable, all in Real-Time,” he added.
A great help for teachers
Earlier, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said that teachers in poll work “need help” and “not added work and expense.” For the group, the directive of DepEd to use the said mobile app “would entail additional work and expense on the part of teacher-poll workers.”
Addressing this, Pascua said that statements against the monitoring app are all “anchored on baseless fears and insinuations, absence of actual contact or experience is using the app, usual opposition to any change, and/or automatic bias against reforms.”
Contrary to ACT’s allegations, Pascua clarified that “DepEd is not compelling the use of the Election Monitoring App.” He noted that while the submission of reports is required, the use of the DepEd Election Monitoring App is an option, a simpler, easier, quicker and more efficient option.”
“DepEd is not compelling any of its teachers to download and submit their reports via the app if they feel that the burden is not worth the time they will save in sending the report, not worth the centralized data monitoring and real-time report generation, and not worth the accessibility to a sufficient response at an acceptable time,” Pascua explained.
Pascua also noted that “not all teachers are required to submit the reports” and “only one member of the Electoral Board (EB) per precinct is already enough, and though they will be using their own smart phone device to download and submit reports, the app will generate a coupon code upon reports submission for load redemption after the election.”
The DepEd Monitoring App, Pascua explained, is designed to be “user-friendly” – thus, reporting will only take less than 5 minutes to submit/upload the reports to the server. “If all questions are answered and much lesser if only partial ones are made at a given time,” he said.
Pascua noted that the sets of questions presented in the app, while really comprehensive, are also “designed to be all answerable” by just clicking TRUE or FALSE buttons.
“Photos may also be taken at anytime using the app which includes a date and time stamp for verification purposes,” he added.
“While we concur that this may be viewed as so-called ‘additional work’ by a few as this is the first time the Department is launching or taking on this endeavor and engaging the reporting process through a digital by default approach, the app in reality just simplifies, makes easier and quicker, and more efficient the work already there and to be done,” Pascua explained. “Following international usage, ‘digital by default’ means digital services that are convenient and reliable that all those who can use them will choose to do so while those who cannot are not excluded,” he added.
Pascua noted that if data are collected properly, officials are able to easily get a picture of activities and reports within hours, not in months or in weeks. “Thus, we urge the understanding of our teachers, personnel and officials of the so-called ‘additional minutes of work’ to make this reporting system beneficial and worthwhile for the whole department,” he added.
The DepEd Monitoring App, Pascua added, is also for the “benefit of the teachers as it reports their issues and concerns and enables prompt action, both in real time.” DepEd, he added, affirmed and has contemplated that it has been “given a very daunting and challenging role/tasks” and the teachers must be equipped and must have the proper tool/s to submit reports as incidents happen on the ground for data/ activities monitoring.
Given this, Pascua noted that the DepEd wants to “ensure that users have available tools/equipment and resources to do their tasks; to ensure that our users/teachers are protected, their rights are upheld and their welfare and benefits secured and delivered; to deliver sufficient and prompt action; to ensure that our school facilities and properties are also looked after, protected and reports are submitted if any incident of damage occurs and to document activities in a timely manner.”
Pascua said the “prompt action and immediate solution to solve similar teachers’ woes is made possible with the use of the monitoring app” – such is made more important in real time when reports cover “emergency matters like harassments, threats of violence, accidents, etc., when prompt and immediate action or intervention is urgently needed.”
Likewise, Pascua noted that the DepEd Monitoring App makes the department and its officials more “accessible and responsive” to teachers and employees. “The DepEd needs to be accessible to teachers and employees who need its help, and one best way to be accessible and be responsive is to take advantage of digital technology,” he explained.
For Pascua, the DepEd Monitoring App’s launch is a “start” and “will set a better monitoring process” for the next elections to come. “Rest assured, DepEd remains committed to the welfare of its personnel, and in pursuing measures and innovations that support it,” he added.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Administration (OUA), the Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS) and the Election Task Force (ETF) will oversee the elections monitoring app which is designed, made and used to attain the following: simplified and easy to understand teacher’s reporting mechanism; faster communication; accurate information gathering and consolidation; centralized Monitoring and Analysis; reports Generation at a click of a button; accessible assistance and response to concerns in a timely manner; the use of emerging digital technologies will enable the department to effectively and efficiently fulfill its vital and critical tasks to gather, consolidate, centralize and manage information. #MatalinongBoto2019