HOPE classrooms lead to high voter turnout in this Indigenous Community
For the students of Jeffry Kapawan (Principal of Fataldao IP Primary School), the burden of attending classes with no formal classroom made their dreams feel like faraway goals. As the lockdown took place, Kapawan feared the young learners would feel all the more dejected.
“Children, mostly tribals aged 6-12 years, would have to walk up to 6 kilometers everyday to go to school. Some of them would even roll up their trousers to cross a river, while others would become so drenched they had no choice but to head back home,” said Kapawan.
That changed when HOPE turned over 2 new classrooms to the Fataldao community in 2020. Even with distance-learning policies in place, the classrooms serve as a module distribution facility and a venue for the school-based feeding program, to ensure that the learning and proper nutrition carry on as planned.
The new classrooms had another unexpected perk. “I don’t remember there ever being this many voters since the Fataldao community was established 50 years ago.", said Kapawan. "Thanks to the impact of your classrooms, many of us just casted our votes for the first time.”
The election was conducted through the executive order of Hon. Abdulrahim Paidumama, Barangay Captain of San Jose, after several members of the community requested that the classrooms serve as the new voting center, because they have ample, desirable space, are conveniently situated, and accessible to the whole community. With almost no exception, the testimony received from the citizens of Barangay San Jose identified the Fataldao classrooms as the preferred venue for voting.
A record 80% voter turnout at the local elections after classrooms were built.
“There was a high number of voters because they felt comfortable and happy that the school could now serve as a multifunctional community center. Tribal elders were so pleased because from then on, there was a true sense of community thanks to this very conducive and beautiful building,” explained Kapawan. “A record number 310 out of 390 voters showed up, made up of 160 men and 150 women.”
An excited voter Rose Balunto added, “Wow, thank you. Everyone is so proud of the classrooms. I wish you could hear how proud everyone is — it’s a huge deal because it’s the first time we have seen and experienced a building like this.”
Voters and election administrators followed strictly the national health and safety protocols. After the pandemic, the classrooms will continue to cater to the IP learners of Fataldao, which has seen an increasing number of enrollees in the last year.
View of the 2 classrooms at Fataldao IP Primary School
“Now, they can start dreaming, building, and voting for a brighter future — not just the students, but the larger IP community as well,” said Kapawan.
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