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“Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.” (The youth is the hope of the nation.) A cliché of sorts that has been used again and again for generations to emphasize the important role of the youth in nation building. Well, who else would inherit the future? Certainly the youth of today. But the question looming in the horizon is, would the future be bright and prosperous with what the youth of today possess? Are they capable of facing the challenges the future brings?

Northern Mindanao is among the many provinces in the country facing problems with basic education. Every year, prior to the start of the school year, local and national news agencies banner headlines of the government’s incapability of addressing problems such as shortage of classrooms that would cater the growing number of students per year, enough number of teachers to captain the classrooms, and even question the elementary and high school curriculum; whether it fits the perfect educational needs of the students.

With the ballooning of the population to a whopping 100 million plus, and the still prevalent problem of the lack of resources to maintain a sustainable education program, the future of the present generation’s youth seems bleak. Now, how could the country’s future be positive if the youth that are depended on already has an uncertain present situation?

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the country’s premiere anti-poverty portfolio of the Department of Social Welfare and Development geared at alleviating the poverty situation through multi-stakeholder participatory project implementation approach, in its 10 years of existence, has aided in the thrust to answer glitches related to shortages in infrastructure (classrooms). For 10 years, barangays of the municipalities in Northern Mindanao under the Kalahi-CIDSS have been blessed with school buildings and daycare centers that until now has been catering to a lot of children in the communities.

Barangays who have determined the need for school classrooms through their barangay assembly or the Participatory Situational Analysis activity were given the opportunity to be prioritized for funding of their sub-projects through the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum prioritization process. With Kalahi-CIDSS, communities now had the opportunity to be the answer to their own problems; the force to lead them to progress with the Community-Driven Development strategy it utilizes.

Kalahi-CIDSS could only do so much to provide for the needs of the communities. There are those barangays, who even though exhibited the dire need for such services/infrastructure, still fall short of the prioritization process. It still boils down to who gets to be prioritized depending on the criteria set by the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum (MIBF) comprised of the representatives from all the barangays in a certain municipality.

Good thing is, hope has been restored. Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), has tapped DSWD (Kalahi-CIDSS) to aid in funding classrooms and daycare centers as long as project documents are complete. Now hope is restored for those barangays who were not prioritized during the Kalahi-CIDSS cycle. The project proposals they have prepared before and are already available could now be used for proposal for the AusAID funding.

To date there are already 2 completed sub-projects in the municipalities of Calamba, Misamis Occidental (Daycare Center), and in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte (1 unit – 3 Classroom building). 18 more are on-going (Kapatagn, Lala – LDN, and Calamba Mis. Occ.), and 26 are on the process of approval for fund release (Kapataga, Lala, Bacolod, Sapad, Magsaysay – LDN, and Calamba and Lopez Jaena – Misamis Occ.). As much as possible, these Day Care Centers and classrooms will answer the shortage of school buildings the region is facing right now. In no time, there will be enough classrooms to cater to every student in the region.

It is still a long way to go but the people’s perseverance and enthusiasm is the key factor at the success of the project. “We are glad that we have good partners in advancing our fight to end poverty with the partnership of DSWD and AusAID. But we must also put into consideration the commitment of other stakeholders just like the Provincial Government Units, Local Government Units, the Department of Education, NGO’s, various school organization (Parents-Teachers Organizations), last but not least our community volunteers. They are well as important as the DSWD and the AusAID,” Engr. Abobacar Tocalo (DSWD FO X Project Development Officer – AusAID) said.

Indeed this endeavor will only be achieved with the participation and service of every stakeholder. Nothing is impossible as long as everyone shoots for the same goals. The Kalahi-CIDSS has proven that it is possible for communities to be empowered and be able to face their own problems. With Kalahi-CIDSS, communities were able to build a strong foundation, one that is rooted on unity and convergence.

The CDD strategy has indeed built the confidence of communities to face different challenges. The KC-AusAID implementation is no less different. Communities will strive to ensure that their efforts ensure the future of their children; the future of our country.

Article by Marko Davey D. Reyes – Social Marketing Officer (Kalahi-CIDSS)

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- who has written 10 posts on DSWD Field Office X Official Website.

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June 2013