From 2002 to 2005, Juan Miguel Luz, a senior official at the Department of Education of the Philippines, led a nationwide drive to ensure timely procurement and delivery of textbooks to the country’s 40,000 public schools. Before Luz took office, corrupt department officials awarded textbook contracts to favored, and often unqualified, publishers. Because of weak quality controls, books had poor binding, printing defects and missing pages. Without a fixed schedule, publishers sometimes delivered textbooks several months after the start of the school year or failed to deliver them. The entire cycle from procurement to delivery could take as long as two years, twice the specified time span. Soon after taking office, Luz initiated the Textbook Count project to overhaul the procurement and delivery process. He partnered with nongovernmental organizations to monitor the department’s bidding process, inspect the quality of textbooks, and track deliveries. Groups such as Government Watch, the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections, and even the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts mobilized thousands of volunteers to help track textbook deliveries to public schools. And Coca-Cola Company used its delivery trucks to transport textbooks to schools in far-flung areas of the country. By 2005, textbook prices had fallen by 50%, binding and printing quality had improved, and volunteer observers reported 95% error-free deliveries. The case offers insights into the challenges of monitoring services and holding civil servants and suppliers accountable.
Rushda Majeed drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Manila, Philippines, in March 2011. She added an epilogue based on interviews conducted in Manila in February and March 2013. Case republished July 2013
Associated Interview(s): Juan Miguel Luz
civil society participation
Civil service corruption
Extending services to insecure or remote areas
Short route accountability
Country of Reform