I was recently invited by Madame Sheila Dayrit, school director of St. Mary's Angels College Valenzuela (SMACV) to a meeting and a round table discussion on school library development. The context being that the school will soon be undergoing its first formal survey by the Philippine Association of Accredited Schools Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). As a candidate school, they are preparing for this accreditation visit with nervous excitement.
Memories of past PAASCU experiences come to mind. When I was a school librarian in Xavier School, I had three PAASCU experiences -- two visits as part of the library staff, and the last as the library coordinator so, that made me a member of the PAASCU Executive Committee.
Accreditation is a lot of work. A two day visit is 4-3 years of preparation. After a PAASCU visit by accreditors, one could only heave a sigh of relief. What makes the experience truly meaningful is the involvement of each member of the community. Personally, I appreciate being a PAASCU accreditor. I have so much to thank for. Being involved in the process of accreditation is a learning experience. Both parties learn -- the accreditors and the school community being accredited. Even the PAASCU learns along the way. The organization is in constant reflection of its processes, systems and procedures. I have had the pleasure of sitting in several assemblies and round table discussions to revise and improve the self survey instrument for Library and AV/Media centers.
In 2009, PAASCU recognized my volunteer work as one of their accreditors for Library and AV/Media Center by giving me the Fr. James Meany SJ Award. I was no longer in Xavier School then, but the award affirmed my vocational calling and answered a question I have kept in my prayers for so long.
There are people who see PAASCU accreditation as an exercise of compliance, a dog and pony show, and its result will lead the school to raise its tuition fees. I don't blame them. We all are human beings after all. But the fact that it is founded by a Jesuit priest (some will raise an eyebrow), traces of Ignatian charism permeates its system, process and ethos. It will take a while for the rest to figure this out.
For the meantime, I will speak my truth and I hold it lightly in my hands.