Social Accountability in the Philippines: An Island of Success in a Sea of Possibility

By Charlotte Ørnemark, Knowledge & Learning, GPSA
 
A shiny roof reflects the scorching mid-day sun as we approach the newly renovated building. Here, in the only school on the small island of Unisan in the Guimaras Province of the Philippines, some 104 children spend their days from Kindergarten to Grade 6.
 
Today this remote island in the Pacific Ocean looks like a paradise. But without any electricity or running water, islanders rely on local boats for making the hour-long journey to the bigger island of Guimaras and the closest city Iloilo for necessities or to interact with public officials – and the weather is often harsh.  
 
For us, starting a day and a half earlier in Manila, the journey to get here has involved one flight, two hours by car, two hours by boat, and one stretch of wading through the crystal clear water of the sea. No wonder then that the school was “forgotten” when it came to fixing years of accumulated disrepairs, worsened by the 2013 typhoon that ripped off most of the roof and ceiling covering one of the classrooms. “We had to move our chairs to one side of the room every time it rained,” explains a 9 year-old boy. “Our teacher kept saying sorry and promised that it would be fixed. But it never was.”

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