Tuesday, January 13, 2009

eSkwela a la Carte: Recipe of a Three-Year old Project

One Sunday afternoon, I was thrilled to write something about eSkwela Project after aimlessly drifting from one television channel to another and finally tuning into a daily cooking show. You are wrong if you think that dabbling into creative writing is one of my New Year’s resolutions. I was just ecstatic to look back and realize that so many things have happened. I did not notice that months have passed until Christmas and New Year were there to celebrate.

First, eSkwela is turning three, and needless to say, part and parcel of the development process are the inevitable birth pains and satisfactory returns. Second, we have conducted pioneering events on the promotion of ICT and its development - the Content Development Conference and the ICT camp. Third, we have additional centers and we are getting into the system of streamlining our operations. We also had a creamer to top everything that we have done - a Certificate of Commendation awarded by no less than UNESCO!

Implementing the project is no walk in the park for we have stumbled upon challenges and constraints, but we have surmounted them in the end. We are just thankful that we have satisfying end results to set off our shortcomings. And looking at how eSkwela is working right now, I can say that it is one great dish to offer. What makes a good dish, though, are the ingredients contained therein, and these are the reasons why eSkwela turned out to be as valued as it is today.

• Proper delegation of tasks

eSkwela is not a one-man project. Tasks are properly delegated among our team members as well as external partners, allowing our project team to be flexible and not get bogged down in the minutiae. Our team members are distributed among our four units (Content Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Instructional Model and Technical) according to his or her competency. However, each individual is not confined to a specific unit; one can be tapped by another when cases are called upon.

• Competent staff

As the literature says, an organization’s best asset is its people. An organization performs well if its members can effectively assemble and collaborate. In addition, there is wisdom, which touches upon the experiences of individuals. The quality and depth of knowledge provides diversity within the team. But more than the competency, every member of the team is willing to learn and explore new ways of doing things, is not easily discouraged by obstacles, and has the heart for the project.

• Smooth group dynamics

We are a pool of different personalities; each has his/her own unique traits and eccentricities. It is an individual’s recognition of his or her personal values that makes us work professionally. Also bringing the project together is the bond that exists between our own personal values and the over-all goals of the project.

• Guidance from expert consultants

Seeking guidance and recommendation from expert consultants does not lessen our sense of ownership to the project. It only increases our confidence for we know that we are treading the right path.

• Good working relationship with partner agencies

Aside from having a highly satisfying rapport with our expert consultants, we also have a harmonious relationship with our partner agencies. Working hand-in-hand with other agencies, we acknowledge as well as take in different but interdependent contributions.

• Dedicated and collaborative site implementers

Consider us lucky to have site implementers who have an equal burning passion to make the project a success. Our site implementers whose enthusiasm to leverage the condition of the underserved sector of the society are always present. Our field partners are known for their untiring efforts to collaborate with us in mutual aim of continuously improving each of our units for the sake of our end users. Our interdependency is clearly understood and managed because of constant communication and active collaboration with one another.

• Reflective and up-to-date monitoring and evaluation

It may sound simple enough, but there are risks that are “insignificant” at the beginning of the project that becomes “catastrophic” due to neglect. Capturing all risk in a risk register ensures – at the very least- there is a record of it and it will not be lost. Furthermore, by documenting everything, references are readily available for any disputes.

As practice, the team regularly conducts postmortem meetings to hash out any issues, improving production support as well as the project processes. Issues that caused any delays or restructuring of project focus and in implementation as well as “morning after” support problems are always collected. These are used to analyze procedures for improvement, and are not regarded as opportunities for personal criticism.

• Capability building approach supports the eQuality program of CICT

Taking into account different perspectives, both internal and external, our capability building approach is one of our project’s great achievements. In addition, we take into consideration the dynamics between and among our project components. Capability building is the heart of our project performance. By harnessing our capabilities, we overcome constraints that can hamper our targets. Likewise, we grab opportunities that can accelerate our development plans.

• Participatory approach in all activities and decision-making

The management team values its stakeholders as one of the major key players in the development of the project. It is always a must that our stakeholders are provided with updates about our milestones and that their expectations are being met. The design of our processes is open to those who are directly affected, giving them the chance to speak out about possible effects. In return, we pass on to them the sense of ownership and accountability for the project.

The development of our project is a process of trial and error, of not being afraid to innovate. Just like a cooking session its a process of mixing and blending; of trying something new to twist the traditional concoction. We do not have the right amount of ingredients at the very beginning. We just have a goal to finish at the end --- to serve you a bigger and better eSkwela Project.