Lia Jorges, along with her classmates at Nord Anglia International School Manila, have embarked on a mission to empower the nation’s youth.
They have designed the Boto Mo Bukas Ko (BMBK) programme, meaning “Your Vote Is My Future”, and have been working on creating voter education toolkits aimed at 11 - 17-year olds.
Lia said that voting in the Philippines is often based on a candidate’s personality and popularity. She and her classmates observed that posters of candidates currently seen all over the city give little or no indication of what the candidates stand for. BMBK teaches young people the importance of political institutions, good governance, leadership and integrity in politics, as well as how their vote will impact the future of their nation.
“We think it’s important to educate people our age about proper citizenship, democracy, policy and legislation: All the things related to elections and voting before our time to vote comes,” Lia said.
Lia is no stranger to understanding the importance of encouraging young Filipinos to vote. Her mother, Natalie Christine Jorges, was the founding chair of Youth Vote Philippines (YVP), an alliance of youth organizations and groups that work together to educate and empower young voters. The organization’s goal is to teach young Filipinos about democracy, good governance and why their vote impacts the state of the nation.
Lia said that, during her mother’s tenure from 2012-2016, the organization hosted a concert called Rock the Vote, inviting Filipino artists to sing about the importance of voting. The not-for-profit is now seeking new ways to spread their message.
When Lia and her classmates discovered that there were no programs aimed at school-aged youth or future voters, they decided to approach YVP with an idea of their own.
Inspired by YVP, the NAIS Manila students designed a voter’s education toolkit that includes a scorecard. The card has three category sections — competence, credibility and knowledge — to help students determine the most suitable political candidate.
Lia and her classmate will be presenting their idea in July at the Nord Anglia Education Student Summit in New York.
An annual event held exclusively for NAE schools through its collaboration with UNICEF, student ambassadors attending the summit must demonstrate how their school is working to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) based on the Global Challenge set by the school’s Global Challenge student leadership team.
Lia wanted her school’s idea to not only have gravitas, but to connect to her and her classmates, too.
“We wanted to work on something that represented us,” Lia said.
In addition, Lia and her classmates are working on building a mock-election board game, which they also plan to present at the Student Summit. The project ties together the UN goals of good governance and quality education. The students hope to demonstrate how simple and easy the toolkit and game are to encourage other countries to replicate and use these voter education resources.
News of the BMBK project has spread throughout the Philippines already. Last month, Lia appeared on the Beyond Politics show on Philippine channel ANC. The NAIS Manila students are currently working with YVP to select schools to test their toolkit on. Lia says that they also want to plan school trips to local government offices, The Senate of the Philippines and the Mayor’s office, too.
“Students should be able to explore these places,” Lia stated.
She continued, “They should see where laws are made and how it ties into the importance of voting.”
NAE’s collaboration with UNICEF has helped NAIS Manila’s Student Parliament team up with the organization’s Philippines branch and work with them to reach out to more young people about the work they’re doing.
According to Sam Gipson, Head of Secondary Pastoral Care and Head of Humanities at NAIS Manila, it has been a joy to help guide the student parliament to pursue a cause that is not only relevant, but one they feel passionately about.
However, one of the most gratifying parts of the project is the transformation of a classroom lesson into real-world learning.
“From a humanities perspective, we want our students to understand the importance of voting rights,” Mr. Gipson said.
“Lia and her classmates made that learning tangible. They created the tools to put their opinion into action and change the situation. They took the abstract and made it real,” he finished.