The case of Project Citizen in the Philippines
Walker, Tanya Rekow
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The purpose of this study was to examine how and why a small non-governmental organization called the Philippine Center for Civic Education and Democracy (PCCED) chose to implement the Project Citizen curriculum, a project-based civic education program promoting civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions, in the Philippine schools. Attention was given to how Project Citizen was adapted for, and implemented in, the Philippine context. The origins of PCCED, its objectives, and how stakeholders perceived program effectiveness were explored. By examining how the PCCED implemented Project Citizen in Manila schools, I investigated how democratic education is maintained in a developing nation faced with the marginalization of civic education in the national curriculum. This qualitative case study relied on interviews, observations, and documents as the main data sources. A comparative education theoretical framework served as my interpretive perspective, and more specifically, I applied Phillips and Ochs’s (2004) policy borrowing and lending model to test its utility with a grassroots case of policy adoption. The data analysis process was guided by Vavrus and Bartlett’s (2014) vertical case study method which relies equally on three different dimensions of comparison: the horizontal, the vertical, and the transversal. The findings of this research indicated that Project Citizen’s growth in its reach and membership since its adoption was the result of several interconnected factors. First, seeking to prevent further marginalization of civic education in the national curriculum, the PCCED offered Project Citizen as an extracurricular participatory citizenship program to engage students, solve community problems, and promote political efficacy. Second, focusing on teacher training, the PCCED was able to convince teachers of the program’s benefits through indigenized nationalist discourse, thus successfully imbedding the curriculum within participating schools. Third, although forced to conduct Project Citizen as an extracurricular activity, teachers and students willingly participated with its implementation, ostensibly due to personal convictions regarding citizenship education’s ability to improve democracy in the nation. Due to these factors, the PCCED successfully implemented Project Citizen without the Department of Education’s mandate, and with limited resources and personnel.