Sunday, May 26, 2024

Campaigns Over Campuses

by the Weekly Sillimanian | February 20, 2022

The campaign period for the national election began last February 8 — and for local positions, another will begin this March 25 too. Thus, the topic of elections, in general, is getting more heated by the day. Talks on campaign restrictions are more prevalent than ever and for good reason.

Whether we are interested in politics or not, the elections do concern us. After all, we are these candidates’ constituents — the people they make their promises to. So, they should not forget about us in the youth sector who make up an impressive 52% of the total voting population.

One of the glaring concerns is candidates traveling all over the country to advocate themselves during a pandemic. Although the Commission on Elections has set restrictions, a lot of people apparently do not think it is fair that these contenders can just wander around while the average citizen cannot. This is ironic because despite being the majority of voters, the youth still has not returned to their classrooms as only a handful of schools in the country have reopened.

To be blunt, the Philippines, while at the mercy of the administration that is about to end, is already facing a crisis in terms of education, even before the pandemic happened, according to the World Bank’s reports. 80% of the children relatively “don’t know what they are learning about and what they should learn about in school.” College students, even past their formative years, could not embrace the full extent of learning because of the ongoing restrictions brought by the pandemic, at least in epidemiological and political terms. 

Outside the barren campuses, around the streets, we see different hopefuls raising their banner, inviting people, and wooing their votes. It’s even alarming that some of the youths fell prey to misinformation online amid the heating climate of politics, in an absence of tangible learning that would have made a difference in the formation of their perspectives.

While we are trying to maintain a difficult balance in our learning experiences as students, we are also doing our part as citizens of the country. We follow the health and safety protocols and hold our ground behind closed doors while the virus is still at large, and with our fight being far from over despite the increasing vaccination drives.

During the pandemic, especially now that the elections are a hot topic, the youth, and even those who fall below this age group, are continuously told to follow the same things over and over again: travel in moderation and follow health protocols. While these are reasonable, we cannot help but wonder if the adults, especially electoral hopefuls, that told us these are following the same advice.

Right now, we students do not have a choice but to sit in our online classes and hope that on our graduation day, we can finally move the tassels on our caps on school grounds. We do understand that we cannot always get what we want during a global health crisis when everyone’s lives are at stake. However, we urge our potential lawmakers to hold themselves accountable and ensure their actions, even before they take their official oaths, are equitable and fair to everyone.

We find ourselves at a grandstand listening to those honeyed words to woo our votes, when we could have been in the classrooms already taking notes of the lessons that hold much more importance for us, either to ace the exams or to equip ourselves to be competent citizens of the nation.

We just hope that whoever gets the seats soon, will give importance to the needs of education. The country needs productive citizens to rise up, especially after a massive health crisis. But with schools closed, students are denied a big chunk of their learning experience, which in turn will transform into haphazard capabilities. The said woe will be detrimental to the country’s struggle for holistic development. 

We’ve seen enough tarps and banners with the candidates’ faces. But people, especially students, are looking forward to those “Welcome back to school” banners more. Grandstands and arenas are already admitting people to see their candidates. Schools should now also be able to admit students for them to see their future.

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