The Manila Times - Voter’s education: Surmounting an electoral misgiving

11 July 2019

By The Manila Times

As our nation prepares for a pivotal midterm election this May 13, how I wish that the Philippines could be first transformed into a “classroom” with the entire populace as “pupils” who are attentively sitting and listening to instructions on how the nation ought to choose its leaders, and how it ought to be governed.

But this is far from reality. Our nation is now bounded with a narrow-minded citizenry, which makes voter’s education for adults to be close to “impossibility.” As what the old Filipino proverb says, “A young tree is easy to straighten but when it’s already big, it is difficult.” Education, however, is still possible, as the youth needs proper knowledge in this respect.

With dirty elections happening around, what do we need for our people to be exonerated from the shackles of ignorance and political illiteracy? Well, it is by means of voter’s education curriculum to be designed and instilled among our youth.

Voter’s education sensitizes the electorate on the importance of participating in elections. It provides the background attitudes, behaviors and knowledge among the youth who will stimulate and consolidate democracy. During an election, this education will ensure that all voters understand and recognize their voting power, obtain behavior that is appropriate to a peaceful election, accept the results with tolerance of the competition and opposition.

Voter’s education is also the key to have good leaders who can truly be public servants. The right to vote is not just a right but also a duty and obligation under the Constitution. It is an important exercise of responsible citizenship.

In support of the effort, I know that I can be an agent of change. That is why I created a voter’s education curriculum in the perspective of an aspiring educator with full of hope to lift the youth out of benightedness when it comes to election.

Target learners
Our national hero Jose Rizal said: “The youth is the hope of the motherland.” Thus, time will come that they will choose the mayors, lawmakers and even the president. And they themselves would be the mayors, lawmakers or the president.

With this, it is timely to consider what vital role educational institutions will play in promoting student participation in the political process. The creation of a voter’s education curriculum will be essential to make the youth be well-prepared, well-informed, and become politically mature and responsible voters and citizens.

From the statistics released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the expected voters for the 2019 midterm elections are over 62 million, with the millennials and Gen Z, or those who are born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, comprising around 31 percent of the total voters. This means, informed voting and voter rights among the youth are as important as ever. This type of education should begin inside the classroom, helping to cultivate well-informed and educated students — students who are confident and ready when it is their turn to take their place in the voting community.

With this, the arranged curriculum is intended for senior high school students (SHS) because they have the right to gain relevant and adequate information for them to effectively understand their democratic rights, roles and responsibilities to participate in electoral processes and make informed choices.

Voter’s education curriculum
By definition, the curriculum refers to the listing of subjects to be taught in school, which includes all the learning experiences to be actualized by the learner. Hence, the curriculum still goes into a process and should contain the following elements: objectives, contents, methods, materials, assessments and time allotment. And how is this to be done by a future educator like me?

First, I formulated the curriculum objectives which are to provide a standardized voter education objectives and relevant contents which suggest training methods, resources, and methods of assessment and to holistically develop students to be firmly equipped about political stability. As an expected outcome, adherence to this curriculum will lead to effective delivery of voter’s education, which corresponds to the needs of the youth.

Curriculum content
Ideally, the curriculum will have three modules. Each module has the title #YOUthVote with respective descriptions intending to say “YOU Vote” to encourage the learners, expected module outcomes, specific objectives, lesson contents and various modes of assessment. Likewise, the modules all have 10 units with their respective descriptions as follows:

Module 1 is titled as “#YOUthVote: The Suffrage Rights and Framework of Elections.” It focuses on how the Philippines practiced the system of elections and how it flourished from being ceremonial into a genuine democratic mechanism.

It also describes the role of the Constitution and principles of good governance. It covers various unit areas such as the 1) History of Philippine Elections; 2) Philippine Government; 3) The Philippine Constitution; 4) Political Rights; 5) Leadership and Good Governance; 6) Electoral Cycle and Laws; 7) Election Offences: 8) Delimitations of Electoral Boundaries; 9) Governing Bodies in the Electoral Process; and 10) Dynamics and Mechanisms of Electoral Processes.

Module 2 is “#YOUthVote: A Systemized Electoral Process,” which focuses on the system of elections and the processes involved. The units are 1) Rule of Law in Electoral Process and Procedure; 2) Elective Positions in the Philippines; 3) Voter Registration; 4) Diaspora Voting; 5) Party Primaries; 6) Candidates for Elections; 7) Campaign and Polling; 8) Tallying, Collation, Announcement, and Declaration of Election Results; 9) Media: Before, During, and After the Election; and 10) Special Groups and Observers in Electoral Process.

Module 3 is “#YOUthVote: A Vision of an Ideal Government.” This part conceives an ideal government, leaders and citizen voters who are surpassing the challenge of various reforms in the system and in attitudes and perceptions into a wider and genuine participation in politics and governance towards citizen’s political maturity.

The module is divided into the following parts: 1) Management of Electoral Results Outcomes; 2) Election Disputes Resolution; 3) Surviving an Electoral-related Violence; 4) Secured Electoral Process; 5) Vision and Action Points for Citizen Voters; 6) Eliminating Identity Politics; 7) Political Rhetoric; 8) Scrutinizing Party Platforms and Advertisements; 9) Voter’s Behavior and Attitudes; and 10) Guiding the Voters Towards a Prosperous Election.

Actualizing the curriculum
In the designed curriculum, there are multiple curriculum methods, resources, and most importantly, the assessments to be done and completed by the learners. Among the methods are seminars, lectures, workshops, demonstrations, discussions, illustrations, role plays, debates, songs and dances, TV and radio drama, audio/visual presentations, and bridging gaps through social network applications.

Resources like the Philippine Constitution, Penal Code, internet, other books, resource persons, election materials, computers and projectors will also be utilized. Formative and summative assessments will be also given in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum.

As this curriculum needs to be incorporated in a SHS subject, it should also be taught for at least an hour every week.

Also, the created voter’s education curriculum will be revisited and recalibrated from time to time in response with the needs and interests of the diverse learners.

The right to vote is one of the most fundamental elements of democracy. This voter’s education curriculum is crafted by a “small voice” that wants to be heard in the future. If finally mandated, the youth will surely have a deeper understanding not only of the process of choosing our leaders but also of the wider and more strategic process of nation-building.

As the youth is said to be the hope of our future, the kind of future that awaits us lies in the hands of teachers. Being dubbed as “curriculum makers or designers,” the pressure is absolutely heavy. But it is now time to recognize that our choices must not be tied solely to an analysis of individual or party platforms but to civic virtues that we believe must underlie and determine the behavior of all citizens in relation to our society. Social reforms can be possible by having a voter’s education curriculum that will best benefit the youth.

Next month, eligible young voters will flock to the voting precincts with a marker and an elongated ballot sheet to exercise the right of suffrage. Instead of casting a naive vote, it will be more of a big delight if we will finally have a voter’s education for the youth, which will extremely guide them out of ignorance and apathy during electoral period.

From that particular standpoint, we will be able to transcend the electoral misgivings to achieve the freedom to choose the right legislators who really know how to craft laws, and elect governors, mayors and barangay leaders who definitely know how to lead and govern.

Education on its own cannot sustain democracy. It, however, can protect democracy when the youth is supported in every activity by a responsive and democratic state wherein an educated studentship can overcome inadequacies during preparations for elections.

Prince Jomari Magtuto Soriano, 23, was a fourth year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Education in English in Academic Year 2018-2019. “Voter’s education: Surmounting an electoral misgiving” was the best essay in the Expository Essay, College Level category of The Manila Times 2019 Essay Contest launched in March 2019. The winners were announced on June 15, 2019.

BY Prince Jomari Magtuto Soriano
Bachelor of Science in Education in English, Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology