Saturday, May 21, 2016

MaPaaralan - Mapping our Schools (Day 10)

MaPaaralan - Mapping our Schools (Day 10)

by Rey Laguda

(This is the DepEd USec Rey Laguda's Day 10 of 50-day journey being serialized here with his permission, culled from him Facebook account - Blogger/owner)

In 2012, there were around 19,000 public schools with location data as a result of an ongoing initiative to map all schools and was given to National Mapping Resource and Information Authority (NAMRIA) for the joint mapping efforts of government.

We felt though that it was necessary to speed things up considering that we were targeting a little more than 46,000 public schools at that time. We also wanted to cover more than 16,000 private schools locations too.

So we explored the idea of crowd-sourcing combined with tapping our workforce in the field offices. We initially thought that a phone application would be ideal that could provide a point reference (x,y coordinates)of the school together with pictures and details. This option derailed us a bit and we adjusted and simplified our approach.

DepEd then launched the MaPaaralan mapping initiative. This combined two words – Map and Paaralan (Filipino for School). But this was also an invitation to be “maparaan”, which is Filipino for resourceful or ingenious. This was an invitation to the general public to help in mapping efforts by “pinning” a public school on Google maps and sending us the coordinates. This was complemented by instructions to our ICT coordinators to sweep their divisions and map as many schools as possible either through Google maps or by going directly to the school and getting coordinates.

We started with about 40% of schools mapped in 2013. By the following year, we obtained coordinates of more than 43,000 schools or about 93% of all public schools at that time. We also mapped more than 7,000 or about 45% of all private schools.

We then used location data together with our database on schools and students. We now had a better handle of access related issues and about how far schools actually were from communities and from each other. We sought to understand catchment areas relative to capacities of schools for more students for senior high school planning. We sought to better understand schools that reported flooding and calamities over a five year period and where they were located.

Visualization of data was enhanced by school locations. We were able to generate maps of schools with libraries, multigrade schools, etc. Using GIS software and online tools, we were able to create a map of all schools on our public website available for everyone. The point references also contained data such as enrollment.

In all these efforts, we worked with partners who have helped us tremendously – Google, Open Street Map community, DSWD, NAMRIA, NDRRMC and Provincial DRRM Office of Antique, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Project NOAH, our DepED personnel, and many private individuals who submitted data to us. We would also like to thank the team of Clarissa David from UP for working with us on data analysis and visualization.

There are many insights my team have when looking back at this initiative. When rolling out initiatives in large scale organizations, the simpler the approach, the better the compliance and the higher the success rate. Make sure that the benefits are felt immediately so that it generates a second wave of participation, enthusiasm, and ownership. Partnering and crowd-sourcing can be very effective tools for engagement and achieving one’s objectives.

There are a lot more things that can be done as an offshoot of this mapping initiative. Data analysis and visualization work can further enhance the achievement of education outcomes. The work continues and so it should. Keep it up Miguel Karlo Macariola and Jojo Villanueva.


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